County Blasts State Plan for Exide Clean Up

July 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis blasted a cleanup plan released by state officials for neighborhoods surrounding the shuttered Exide battery-recycling plant in Vernon, saying the plan moves too slowly and will leave thousands of residents exposed to dangerous levels of lead.

“This community has suffered enough, not only at the hands of Exide, but at the hands of DTSC (state Department of Toxic Substances Control), which allowed Exide to operate on a temporary permit for 33 years,” Solis said Monday.

“The DTSC’s final cleanup plan ignores many of the reasonable concerns raised by the community members.”

The release of the state’s plan comes just days after release of an informal survey or area residents revealed that many residents in the impacted are live in fear that they or someone in their home might get lead poisoning or cancer from the high levels of hazardous chemicals spewed from the plant for decades.

More than 4,200 surveys were completed during a June 10 outreach effort in Bell, Boyle Heights, Commerce, Maywood, East Los Angeles, Huntington Park and Vernon, all within the 1.7 mile radius targeted as having the highest potential for lead exposure and contamination.

DTSC released its cleanup plan last week, saying about 2,500 properties with the most contaminated soil will be targeted in the cleanup effort that will take two years.

According to the department, the cleanup effort will be conducted at properties within 1.7 miles of the plant, prioritizing:

—homes with soil lead concentrations of 400 parts per million or higher;

—residential properties with the overall lead concentration is less that 400 parts per million, but where any individual soil sampling was determined to have a concentration of 1,000 ppm or higher;

—daycare and child care centers with soil lead concentrations of 80 ppm or higher that have not yet been cleaned; and

—all parks and schools in need of cleaning.

Additional properties could be cleaned if funding is available, officials said.

Solis and county Public Health officials called the DTSC’s cleanup plan ineffective, saying it will not identify all the properties in need of expedited cleanup. They accused the state agency of ignoring recommendations from the county and residents.

They also contend the cleanup plan for the interior of homes doesn’t offer assurances that the homes will be safe to occupy, since lead can still be tracked in from the outside.

DTSC officials insisted, however, that the cleanup plan shows the agency’s “strong commitment to protecting the health of those who live in these communities.”

“This cleanup plan is the result of more than a year of effort and community input,” said Mohsen Nazemi, deputy director for DTSC’s Brownfields and Environmental Restoration Program. “We held three public meetings to solicit comments and had an extended comment period. We received about 1,000 public comments, which we carefully reviewed and considered in the final document.

“In response to the public comments we received, DTSC adjusted the prioritization process to streamline it in a manner that continues to protect the health of residents at properties with the highest levels of lead in soil and the greatest risk of exposure to that lead,” Nazemi said.

Regarding concerns over the timing of the cleanup, DTSC officials noted that cleanup operations were suspended last summer when concerns by residents and legislators led to a full environmental review, and the preparation of an environmental impact report that has been in the works ever since.

Community and environmental activists point out that the effort to clean up the hazardous waste, which started at least 5 years ago with calls for closing the plant, has dragged on for far too long.

Exposure to even low levels of lead have been proven to cause lifelong consequences to children in the form of learning disabilities and lower IQs, as well as other health issues.

Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said the two-year process to clean 2,500 properties “does not reflect the urgent risks that lead contamination poses to the people in these communities.

The Exide plant permanently closed in March 2015. When Exide agreed to close the lead-acid battery recycling plant, it committed to pay $50 million for cleanup of the site and surrounding neighborhoods. Of that amount, $26 million is meant to be set aside for residential cleanup.

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation providing a $176.6 million loan for environmental testing and cleanup work in neighborhoods surrounding the now-shuttered plant, with the testing expected to cover about 10,000 properties.

Environmental and health experts during several public hearings put the cost to fully remediate the toxic dangers at closer to $400 million.

DTSC officials said they ultimately plan to hold Exide and any other parties responsible for the contamination financially liable for the testing and cleanup.

Meanwhile, county officials say they will continue to press for a speedier remediation process.

“This wouldn’t be allowed to happen if this was Aliso Canyon,” said Solis, referring to the natural gas leaks in the more affluent community of Porter Ranch.

Oficiales del Condado Critican Plan Estatal de Limpieza Exide

July 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

La supervisora del condado de Los Ángeles, Hilda Solís, criticó un plan de limpieza lanzado por funcionarios estatales para vecindarios alrededor de la planta del reciclaje de baterías Exide en Vernon, diciendo que el plan se mueve demasiado lento y dejará a miles de residentes expuestos a peligrosos niveles de plomo.

“Esta comunidad ha sufrido lo suficiente, no sólo a manos de Exide, sino a manos de DTSC (el Departamento Estatal de Control de Sustancias Tóxicas), que permitió a Exide operar con un permiso temporal durante 33 años”, dijo Solís el lunes.

“El plan de limpieza final de DTSC ignora muchas de las preocupaciones razonables planteados por los miembros de la comunidad”.

La semana pasada, DTSC lanzó su plan de limpieza diciendo que unas 2,500 propiedades con el suelo más contaminando serán los objetivos del esfuerzo de limpieza que tomará dos años.

Según el departamento, el esfuerzo de limpieza se llevará a cabo en las propiedades dentro de 1,7 millas de la planta, dando prioridad a:

  • casas con concentraciones de plomo en el suelo de 400 partes por millón o más;
  • las propiedades residenciales con la concentración total de plomo con menos de 400 partes por millón, pero donde se determinó que cualquier muestreo de suelo individual tenía una concentración de 1.000 ppm o superior;
  • guarderías y centros de cuidado infantil con concentraciones de plomo en el suelo de 80 ppm o más que aún no han sido limpiadas; y
  • todos los parques y escuelas que necesitan limpieza.

Las propiedades adicionales podrían ser limpiadas si hay fondos disponibles, dijeron los funcionarios.

(Department of Toxic Substance Abuse)

(Department of Toxic Substance Abuse)

Los reguladores estatales publicaron su plan dentro de los días en donde Solís y los funcionarios de salud pública del condado llamaron ineficaz el plan de limpieza del DTSC, diciendo que no identificará todas las propiedades que necesitan una limpieza acelerada. Acusaron a la agencia estatal de ignorar las recomendaciones del condado y de los residentes.

También sostienen que el plan de limpieza para el interior de los hogares no ofrece garantías de que las casas serán seguras para ocupar, ya que el plomo todavía puede ser rastreado desde el exterior.

Los funcionarios de DTSC insistieron, sin embargo, en que el plan de limpieza muestra el “fuerte compromiso de la agencia para proteger la salud de quienes viven en estas comunidades”.

“Este plan de limpieza es el resultado de más de un año de esfuerzo y aportación de la comunidad”, dijo Mohsen Nazemi, subdirector del Programa de Restauración y Conservación Ambiental de DTSC. “Hicimos tres reuniones públicas para solicitar comentarios y tuvimos un periodo de comentarios ampliado. Recibimos cerca de 1,000 comentarios públicos, que revisamos detalladamente y consideramos en el documento final.

“En respuesta a los comentarios públicos que recibimos, DTSC ajustó el proceso de priorización para simplificarlo de una manera que continúe protegiendo la salud de los residentes en las propiedades con los niveles más altos de plomo en el suelo y el mayor riesgo de exposición a ese plomo”, dijo Nazemi.

En cuanto a las preocupaciones sobre el momento de la limpieza, los funcionarios del DTSC señalaron que las operaciones de limpieza fueron suspendidas el verano pasado cuando las preocupaciones de los residentes y legisladores condujeron a una revisión ambiental completa y la preparación de un informe de impacto ambiental que ha estado funcionado desde entonces.

Bárbara Ferrer, directora del Departamento de Salud Pública del Condado de Los Ángeles, dijo que el proceso de dos años para limpiar 2,500 propiedades “no refleja los riesgos urgentes que la contaminación del plomo plantea a las personas en estas comunidades”.

La planta Exide se cerró permanentemente en marzo del 2015. Cuando Exide acordó cerrar la planta de reciclado de plomo-ácido de la batería, se comprometió a pagar $50 millones para la limpieza del sitio y los barrios circundantes. De esa cantidad, $26 millones se destina a ser reservado para la limpieza residencial.

El año pasado, el gobernador Jerry Brown firmo una legislación que proveía $176,6 millones en financiamiento para pruebas ambientales y trabajos de limpieza en vecindarios rodeando la ahora cerrada planta, esperando que las pruebas cubrieran unas 10,000 propiedades.

Los expertos del medio ambiente y salud durante varias audiencias públicas pusieron el costo para remediar completamente los peligros tóxicos en cerca de $400 millones.

Funcionarios de DTSC dijeron que en última instancia planean mantener a Exide y a cualquier otra parte responsable de la contaminación financiera responsable de las pruebas y limpieza.

Mientras tanto, los funcionarios del condado dicen que seguirán presionando para un proceso de remediación más rápido.

“Esto no se permitiría que ocurriera si se trataba de Aliso Canyon”, dijo Solís, refiriéndose a las fugas de gas natural en la comunidad más acomodada de Porter Ranch.

Exide: Nearby Residents Still Living in Fear

July 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Promises to clean up lead and other toxic waste has done little to calm the fears of people living in the shadow of the now closed Exide battery-recycling plant in Vernon, according to a just released survey.

Three out of four households surveyed during a massive volunteer outreach effort June 10 said they are concerned that they or someone in their home might get lead poisoning or cancer from the high levels of hazardous chemicals spewed from the plant for decades, the unscientific survey found.

More than 1,500 workers visited 16,000 homes in Bell, Boyle Heights, Commerce, Maywood, East Los Angeles, Huntington Park and Vernon and over 4,200 health surveys were completed during the June 10 outreach event, county health officials reported last Friday.

“The results from the survey are alarming,” County Supervisor Hilda Solis said in a statement pointing out that there are large numbers of children and pregnant women living within the 1.7 mile radius targeted as having the highest potential for lead exposure and contamination.

She added that pregnant women and children are at higher risk for “poor health outcomes from exposure to lead and arsenic.”

Exposure to even low levels of lead have been proven to cause lifelong consequences to children in the form of learning disabilities and lower IQs, as well as other health issues.

“For far too long, people around the Exide plant suffered the consequences of lead and other chemical contaminations. Our residents living near Exide deserve better monitoring and follow-up, and we will continue to work with our Department of Public Health and residents to ensure that the necessary clean-up efforts move quickly for the health of our communities,” Solis said.

—Nearly half of households reported there are children under 6 years old who live or spend time in the home or yard.

—65% of households reported that their yards were tested for lead. More than half reported that they have not received the results from soil testing.

—Nearly half of the households reported they are not satisfied with the progress of the clean up activities.

The results of the survey were no surprise to community and environmental justice activists who have long complained that state regulators are moving too slowly to complete the clean up work.

“We’re counting on our elected officials to help us get the lead out of our neighborhoods, so that residents do not continue to be exposed to a known hazardous chemical,” Monsignor John Moretta of Resurrection Church in Boyle Heights was quoted as saying in a statement released by county health officials and Solis’ office.

The survey results show “The California Department of Toxic Substances Control continues to fail these communities that have borne unconscionable health and safety burdens,” said Gladys Limón with Communities for a Better Environment, “The state has the legal and moral duty to swiftly clean up the contamination and provide necessary health services,” she said.

Iris Verduzco with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice said it’s well known that “lead poisoning negatively impacts cognitive functions and makes educational attainment increasingly difficult. We know that Exide has been and continues to contribute to the lead poisoning that is impacting our communities, our families, and our children,” said Verduzco, explaining they have detected levels of lead “near parks and schools that are considered hazardous waste and unsafe for children and residents.”

All three activists called for urgency in completing blood and soil testing and the decontamination process.

“The survey highlights the need to act with urgency to prevent exposure to continued high levels of lead,” agreed Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, director of the county’s department of public health.

She said her department is continuing to work with other county agencies “and community partners to implement the recommendations to ensure that the residents are supported in their right to live in healthy neighborhoods and homes.”

DTSC is in the process of finalizing the required Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the decontamination process and in January the agency expedited the clean up of properties with the highest risk, including homes with children that tested positive for higher than acceptable levels of lead.

The agency will hold “office hours” today in Bell and in East Los Angeles on Monday, at which time they will help explain testing results to residents and answer any questions they may have. Another session will be held July 18 in Commerce; more details can be found in EGP’s Community Calendar.

The Exide plant permanently closed in March 2015. When Exide agreed to close the lead-acid battery recycling plant, it committed to pay $50 million for cleanup of the site and surrounding neighborhoods. Of that amount, $26 million is meant to be set aside for residential cleanup.

Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year signed legislation providing $176.6 million in funding for environmental testing and cleanup work in neighborhoods surrounding the now-shuttered plant.

Residentes Cerca de la Planta de Exide Preocupados por el Envenenamiento por Plomo

July 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Una mayoría de hogares cerca de la planta de reciclado de baterías de Exide en Vernon están preocupados de que alguien en su casa pueda tener cáncer o envenenamiento por plomo de materiales peligrosos, según una encuesta publicada el viernes 30 de junio.

La Agencia de Salud del Condado de Los Ángeles anuncio los resultados de su labor de divulgación de puerta en puerta el viernes, en el que más de 1,500 trabajadores visitaron 16,000 hogares en Bell, Boyle Heights, Commerce, Maywood, este de Los Ángeles, Huntington Park y Vernon.

“Los resultados de la encuesta son alarmantes”, dijo la supervisora del condado Hilda Solís. “Durante demasiado tiempo, la gente alrededor de la planta de Exide han sufrido las consecuencias del plomo y otras contaminaciones químicas. Nuestros residentes que viven cerca de Exide merecen un mejor seguimiento y monitoreo, y seguiremos trabajando con el Departamento de Salud Pública y nuestros residentes para asegurar que los esfuerzos de limpieza necesarios se muevan rápidamente para la salud de nuestras comunidades”.

“La encuesta destaca la necesidad de actuar con urgencia para prevenir la exposición a los altos niveles de plomo”, dijo la directora de Salud Pública del Condado de Los Ángeles Bárbara Ferrer.

La encuesta se realizó el 10 de junio.

Los resultados de la encuesta incluyeron lo siguiente:

—Tres de cada cuatro hogares encuestados dijeron estar preocupados de que alguien en su casa podría tener cáncer o envenenamiento por plomo de materiales peligrosas;

—Casi la mitad de los encuestados dijeron no estar satisfechos con el progreso de las actividades de limpieza.

—65 por ciento de los hogares reportaron que sus patios delanteros fueron probados para el plomo. Más de la mitad dijo que aún no habían recibido los resultados.

La planta Exide se cerró permanentemente en marzo del 2015. Cuando Exide acordó cerrar la planta de reciclado de plomo-ácido de la batería, se comprometió a pagar $50 millones para la limpieza del sitio y los barrios circundantes. De esa cantidad, $26 millones se destina a ser reservado para la limpieza residencial.

A principios de este año el gobernador Jerry Brown firmo una legislación que proveía $176.6 millones en financiamiento para pruebas ambientales y trabajos de limpieza en vecindarios rodeando la ahora cerrada planta.

Fear of Cancer, Lead Poisoning Haunt People Living Near Closed Exide Plant

June 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A majority of households near the shuttered Exide battery-recycling plant in Vernon are concerned that someone in their home might   get cancer or lead poisoning from hazardous materials, according to a survey released today.

The Los Angeles County Health Agency announced the results of its door-to-door outreach effort today, in which more than 1,500 workers visited 16,000 homes in Bell, Boyle Heights, Commerce, Maywood, East Los Angeles, Huntington Park and Vernon.

“The results from the survey are alarming,” County Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “For far too long, people around the Exide plant suffered the consequences of lead and other chemical contaminations.

Our residents living near Exide deserve better monitoring and follow-up, and we will continue to work with our Department of Public Health and residents to ensure that the necessary clean-up efforts move quickly for the health of our communities.”

“The survey highlights the need to act with urgency to prevent exposure to continued high levels of lead,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The survey was conducted on June 10.

Survey results included the following:
— Three out of four households surveyed said they were concerned that someone in their home might get cancer or lead poisoning from hazardous materials;
— Nearly half of those surveyed said they are not satisfied with the progress of clean-up activities.
— 65 percent of households reported that their front yards were tested for lead. More than half said they had not received the results yet.

The Exide plant permanently closed in March 2015. When Exide agreed to close the lead-acid battery recycling plant, it committed to pay $50 million for cleanup of the site and surrounding neighborhoods. Of that amount, $26 million is meant to be set aside for residential cleanup.

Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year signed legislation providing $176.6 million in funding for environmental testing and cleanup work in neighborhoods surrounding the now-shuttered plant.

Door-to-Door Exide Campaign Kicks Off Saturday

June 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles County health officials and volunteers will be going door-to-door Saturday, visiting thousands of homes near the former Exide battery-recycling plant in Vernon to see if residents have health issues, link them with available services and provide them with educational materials.

“These residential communities have been unjustly exposed to hazardous living conditions for decades,” County Supervisor Hilda Solis said.

“Thousands of people still have not been given appropriate information about the contaminants or been connected to the appropriate resources to improve their lives.

“It is important we continue connecting our residents to the information and support they need to protect their health and their families,” she said.

Health officials and more than 1,500 community volunteers will be taking part in the outreach effort, visiting more than 20,000 homes within a 1.7-mile radius of the plant that closed in March 2015. The participants will survey residents about their health issues or concerns. The homes are in Bell, Boyle Heights, Commerce, Maywood, East Los Angeles, Huntington Park and Vernon.

The outreach effort will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

After the effort, county health officials will prepare a report that will be publicly released.

“We want to ensure that the county understands the concerns of residents within the Exide area and that the residents are supported in their right to live in healthy neighborhoods and homes,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

County officials have been pressing state regulators to expedite the cleanup of about 400 homes closest to the plant, noting that they have hazardous waste-level lead contamination. The state has allocated millions of dollars toward testing and cleanup operations at homes near the plant, and

Exide committed to invest $50 million to remediation efforts at the plant and surrounding neighborhoods.

Leader In Exide Fight Recognized

April 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Growing up in a home full of activists, it wouldn’t be long before East Los Angeles native Mark Lopez took the streets himself to advocate for clean air in his community, an effort that years later has now earned him recognition.

Lopez on Monday received the Goldman Environmental Prize, a prestigious worldwide recognition of grassroots environmentalists. He was recognized for his efforts in the fight against the now-shuttered Exide battery recycling plant, which he says is far from over.

Soon after earning a degree in environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz, Lopez returned to his hometown of East L.A., where he learned from his grandparents about a lead battery recycling plant violating air quality standards and exposing his community to arsenic and lead.

Since then, Lopez, executive director of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, along with other environmental activists, was instrumental in shutting down the controversial Exide plant in nearby Vernon. Testing has revealed thousands of homes within a 1.7-mile radius might have been contaminated.

Working with East Yard, Lopez began organizing door-to-door campaigns and bike tours to educate residents about the contamination. He organized rallies outside the Exide plant and traveled to Sacramento to demand the state fund the cleanup of the homes and other properties, including schools and parks: Gov. Brown eventually approved $176 million for testing and cleanup.

Lopez has since served as co-chair of the Department of Toxic Substances Control Exide Advisory Committee and played a role in advocating for The Lead-Acid Battery Recycling Act of 2016, a battery tax that is expected to generate $30 million for cleanup efforts.

On Tuesday, EGP spoke with Lopez about the environmental issues eastside residents face daily and the impact he made in the fight against Exide.

Mark Lopez stands in front of the now-shuttered Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon. (Goldman Environmental Prize)

Mark Lopez  in front of the now-shuttered Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon. (Goldman Environmental Prize)

 

EGP: What prompted you to do something about the Exide?

Lopez: The moment that turned it around for me was on a phone call with DTSC and the County, DTSC was claiming residents did not want their homes tested. I thought ‘no way this is true, let’s go out there ourselves’ and we began knocking on doors. We realized residents were not being informed and DTSC did not know how to do outreach in this community. That’s when I decided we needed to get involved because it felt like DTSC was lying and perpetrating a problem.

 

EGP: As co-chair of the Exide advisory board, what are some of the things you brought to the table that otherwise would not have been considered?

Lopez: It’s persistence; it’s calling the department out. It’s going to the state, calling for data, calling to question the information presented, calling out contradictory statements. We went out there and did the work the state wasn’t doing and taught the state how to do outreach. We just kept advancing the work ahead of the state.

 

EGP: What other environmental issues are eastside residents facing?

Lopez: The amount of trucks coming through the community and the rail yards in our backyards. But the issue nobody is talking about is that displacement caused by gentrification is causing our families to move to places like Riverside, places with the same polluting rail yards and industries.

Mark Lopez, executive director of East Yard Communities for Environental Justice received the Goldman Environmental Prize Monday. (Goldman Environmental Prize)

Mark Lopez, executive director of East Yard Communities for Environental Justice received the Goldman Environmental Prize Monday. (Goldman Environmental Prize)

EGP: Do you think there is a misconception that Latinos do not care about the environment or are not a part of the fight for environmental justice?

Lopez: Before the award ceremony we were invited to a short reception with Bay area youth. One young Latina asked if I thought that caring about the environment was a privilege.

I feel environmentalism is seen as something whites do but what we’re doing is not environmentalism, what we’re doing is the struggle right in front of us. We’re not talking about abstract things, we’re fighting against lead in our soul, the air we breath, the rail yards in our backyards. Working class folks have had to do more with less, they’ve been doing those things that are now seen as conservation.

 

EGP: What has Exide taught you? What does it say about community activism?

Lopez: One big lesson is sometimes we have to be ahead of the state, so far ahead that they have no choice left but to follow. If we know more than the state agencies we are able to dictate the plan moving forward.

Nothing is possible as an individual; everything is possible with a community. This is an intergenerational, intercommunity struggle. We didn’t beat Exide in Washington D.C., we beat Exide in the streets of East L.A. I hope other communities are inspired by what we’re doing.

 

EGP: What are some of the battles the next generation of activists will have to take on?

Lopez: Young folks don’t remember President George W. Bush. During that time there was a lot of consciousness and culture of resistance, but going into the President Barrack Obama era, that went away. What we need to do is sustain that resistance.

I’m the 3rd generation fighting for the closure of Exide. Thankfully my young daughters will not be the 4th generation. What they will be is the 2nd generation fighting for the Exide cleanup. This cleanup is not going to be done before they become adults, that’s the reality. It’s an ever-present struggle in our community.

 

County Wants DTSC to Expedite Exide Cleanup

March 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

County health officials said Tuesday they are pressing state regulators to expedite the cleanup of an estimated 400 homes near the shuttered Exide battery-recycling plant in Vernon that have hazardous waste-level lead contamination.

The 400 homes where soil tested for lead showed levels at or above 1,000 parts per million are the highest priority, according to Angelo Bellomo, the county’s deputy director for health protection.

“We believe there is sufficient basis for … expediting the cleanup (of soil on those properties),’’ Bellomo told the Board of Supervisors.

However, the DTSC is considering other criteria ­— in addition to contamination levels – in deciding how to prioritize cleanup of individual homes.

Those factors include whether children under the age of 7 or pregnant women live at a contaminated site and whether residents have a blood-lead level at or above five micrograms per deciliter, according to guidance published on the agency’s website.

County officials disagree.

“Everybody who is living in a house [with levels at or above 1,000 ppm]… needs mitigation … and needs mitigation immediately,” Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the board.

“And that means soil removal and not laying plastic over it.”

Bellomo said he hoped initial cleanup efforts could begin in April.

“I sense that (the state Department of Toxic Substances Control) is trying to do the right thing, but they seem to be going very slow,” Supervisor Hilda Solis said.

DTSC documentation calls for a draft cleanup plan and environmental impact report to be finalized in June, with cleanup beginning in the summer. An agency spokeswoman confirmed those time estimates still hold, but said high-risk sites could be addressed earlier.

Properties with contamination between 400-1,000 ppm also meet federal regulatory levels for cleanup and state public health officials calculate that levels need to be below 80 ppm to eliminate lead risk.

The DTSC’s proposal calls for soil to be cleaned to below 80 ppm, and agency contractors are still in the process of testing the lead levels in surrounding communities. The regulatory agency estimates that it could handle cleanup of an average of 50 properties per week and that the work would be completed within two years.

State and county personnel are wrangling over whether cleanup is warranted inside homes, according to Bellomo, with the county arguing that interiors must at least be assessed and possibly cleaned.

Community leaders are also making this point,’’ Bellomo told the board.

The agency said in December that it would offer interior cleaning, but did not specify in what cases and whether that cleaning would be to specific environmental standards or to deal with the consequences of soil removal.

The discussion about DTSC’s progress was prompted when Solis asked for an update on complaints by workers employed to do soils testing.

Some workers employed by DTSC contractors alleged that they have been forced to manipulate testing data, work in unsafe conditions that expose them to contaminated soil and subjected to racist and derogatory comments by field managers, Deputy County Counsel Robert Ragland told the board.

The allegations have been referred to the state Attorney General’s office.

“I think the investigation has just begun,” Ragland said, telling the board that the county was awaiting the results of that review.

DTSC “encourages potentially affected individuals to have their blood lead levels tested’’ and offers a hotline for residents with questions about cleanup at (844) 225-3887.

 

Exide: Estado Acelera Limpieza de Viviendas Con Altos Niveles de Plomo Después de Largo Retraso

January 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Los reguladores ambientales estatales anunciaron el jueves que permitirán una limpieza acelerada de los hogares de alto riesgo cerca de la previa planta de reciclaje de baterías Exide Technologies en Vernon. Esto será permitido incluso antes de que se complete un plan de mitigación a su totalidad y una revisión ambiental.

El Departamento de Control de Sustancias Tóxicas dio a conocer un borrador del plan de limpieza e informe del impacto ambiental para su revisión pública en diciembre. Las operaciones de limpieza se esperan comiencen este verano para mitigar el suelo contaminado con plomo y las propiedades cerca de la planta.

Sin embargo, ese horario provocó críticas entre algunos de los residentes y funcionarios del área que dijeron que algunas de las propiedades cerca de la planta están en un riesgo particularmente alto.

Un negocio en el Este de Los Ángeles orgullosamente promueve baterías de autos de la marca Exide. (EGP)

La planta de Exide fue permanentemente cerrada en marzo de 2015. (EGP)

Funcionarios del DTSC dijeron el jueves que avanzarán con las limpiezas en una base de “caso por caso” en un número de propiedades limitadas “con altos niveles de plomo en el suelo y con las mayores exposiciones a los sectores vulnerables de la población”.

“Estamos utilizando todos los recursos que tenemos a nuestra disposición para asegurarnos de que podamos proteger a las poblaciones más sensibles que han sido impactadas por la presencia del plomo en el suelo a causa de las operaciones de Exide”, dijo la directora de DTSC, Bárbara Lee.

La agencia considerará acelerar la limpieza de las propiedades que tengan tierra con niveles de plomo de 1,000 partes por millón o más. La agencia también considerará limpiar las propiedades con residentes que “tengan un nivel de plomo en la sangre de o por encima de cinco microgramos por decilitro, el nivel utilizado por los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades de EE.UU. para identificar a los niños con niveles elevados de plomo en la sangre”.

La asambleísta Cristina García, quien representa a algunas de las comunidades afectadas, dice estar satisfecha con las nuevas directrices de la agencia estatal.

Miembros de la comunidad durante reunión discutiendo la planta Exide. Foto de EGP

Miembros de la comunidad durante reunión discutiendo la planta Exide. Foto de EGP

“Vamos a asegurarnos de que las directrices se implementen rápidamente, ya que es imperativo que las casas con la mayor contaminación se limpien tan pronto sea posible teniendo en cuenta los efectos en la salud de vivir expuestos al plomo”, dijo García en un comunicado de prensa.

“Estas familias no han tenido más remedio que vivir en esta contaminación durante años. No pueden esperar más”, agregó.

Cuando Exide acordó cerrar la planta de reciclaje de baterías de plomo, se comprometió a pagar $50 millones por la limpieza del sitio y de los vecindarios circundantes.

De esa cantidad, $26 millones están destinados a ser reservados para la limpieza residencial. El gobernador Jerry Brown firmó a principios de este año una legislación que otorgaba $176.6 millones en fondos para pruebas ambientales y trabajos de limpieza en vecindarios alrededor de la planta ahora cerrada.

Funcionarios estatales dijeron que el financiamiento pagaría por pruebas de propiedades residenciales, escuelas, guarderías y parques dentro de un radio de 1.7 millas de la planta, y financiaría la limpieza de hasta 2,500 propiedades con los mayores niveles de plomo.

El DTSC publicó el Informe del Proyecto de Impacto Ambiental y el Plan de Acción (Limpieza) Correctiva para la limpieza residencial. El público tendrá hasta el 15 de febrero para revisar el documento y hacer conocer sus comentarios.

Una reunión pública se llevará a cabo hoy a las 9 p.m. en el Ayuntamiento de Maywood, para proporcionarle la oportunidad a los interesados de presentar sus comentarios en persona. Una segunda reunión está programada para el sábado, 28 de enero a las 9 a.m. en la Iglesia de Resurrección en Boyle Heights.

Exide: After Long Delay, State Moves to Speed Cleaning of Homes With Highest Levels of Lead

January 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

State environmental regulators issued guidelines Thursday that will allow expedited cleanups of high-risk homes near the shuttered Exide Technologies battery-recycling plant in Vernon even before a full mitigation plan and environmental review are completed.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control released a draft cleanup plan and environmental impact report for public review in December, with cleanup operations to mitigate lead-contaminated soil and properties near the plant anticipated to begin this summer.

That schedule, however, sparked criticism from some residents and area officials who said some properties near the plant are at particularly high risk.

DTSC officials said Thursday they will move forward with cleanups on a “case-by-case basis” at a limited number of properties “with high levels of lead in the soil and the greatest exposures to sensitive populations.”

“We are utilizing all of the resources at our disposal to ensure that we are able to take action to protect the most sensitive populations impacted by the presence of lead in the soil from the Exide operations,” DTSC Director Barbara Lee said.

The agency plans to consider for expedited cleanup properties that have soil with lead levels of 1,000 parts per million or more. The agency will also consider cleanups at properties were a resident
“has a blood-lead level at or above five micrograms per deciliter, which is the level used by the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify children with elevated blood-lead levels.”

The Exide plant permanently closed in March 2015. When Exide agreed to close the lead-acid battery recycling plant, it committed to pay $50 million for cleanup of the site and surrounding neighborhoods. Of that amount, $26 million is meant to be set aside for residential cleanup.

Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year signed legislation providing $176.6 million in funding for environmental testing and cleanup work in neighborhoods surrounding the now-shuttered plant.

State officials said the funding would pay for testing of residential properties, schools, day care centers and parks within a 1.7-mile radius of the plant, and fund cleaning of as many as 2,500 properties with the highest lead levels.

Next Page »

Copyright © 2017 Eastern Group Publications/EGPNews, Inc. ·