EXIDE VERNON BREAKING NEWS: 58th District Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia issues statement regarding latest DTSC revelation that lead contamination from Exide smelter is much wider than originally thought, and that testing now show residents in City of Commerce are also affected; Calls situation ‘full-blown public health emergency’ and for DTSC to begin cleanup immediately
Statement from Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia Addressing Lead Contamination by Exide in the City of Commerce
Friday, August 21, 2015
As we learned with last night’s announcement by Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), lead contamination spewed by the Exide battery plant knows no political or jurisdictional boundaries and testing now shows residents in the City of Commerce are also affected. This contamination is now more widespread and my first concern is with the immediate health of citizens in the City of Commerce, especially our most vulnerable, such as pregnant women and young children who may come in contact with contamination in their yards or at the playground.
This is a full blown public health emergency and the DTSC must act immediately and start cleanup activities, without delaying the process by requiring further site testing. The continued testing is expensive and continues to only reaffirm what the scientific models show to be the likely spread of the contaminant. With an average of $39,000 per house for cleanup and 10,000 affected homes, we’re looking at $390 million dollars just for cleanup. It is ridiculous that with numerous studies showing the same results, initial testing showing the same results and with the clean up’s huge price tag and people’s health being compromised, we are going to spend secured monies on testing.
Through preliminary testing and modeling up to 10,000 new properties have been identified as being high risk for lead contamination. This exposure is extremely hazardous to the public, so hazardous that we must take extraordinary means today to bypass bureaucratic red tape, because people’s health is at risk. Our agencies have failed this community for too long, it is time they start to do right by our families and act in swift manner.
The community is angry and frustrated and we also must hold the California Air Resources Board and South Coast Air Quality Management District accountable for inadequate air monitoring and testing that has allowed this problem to escalate into a public health catastrophe. While the toxins are on the ground, in our homes, in our bodies, the contaminants were first spread through the air.
I am committed to working together with the City of Commerce, residents, the advisory board and DTSC in keeping the public informed of this hazard and beginning as soon as humanly possible to implement an aggressive cleanup plan of action and the health screenings needed to move our community forward.
With cleanup in place, those responsible for this contamination must still be held accountable for their actions. But, for the present, instead of pointing fingers, we need to consider this a state emergency and with the state responsible to act, start the cleanup immediately and worry later about the party to be held financially liable. There is no time for bureaucratic delay or disaccord and I agree with Senate President pro Tem Kevin De León, who said recently, “A better use of their (bureaucrats) time is cleaning up the neighborhoods…”
I have always been a community activist and someone who will speak out against injustice in my own backyard. I am committed to being a voice for my communities locally and in Sacramento and will be there for those affected by this tragic consequence, every step of the way.
The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, Norwalk, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia.
CONTACT: Elena Lee, (916) 319-2950