Join CBE and allies on December 17, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. at Air District Board of Directors Public Meeting at 939 Ellis Street (near Van Ness), San Francisco, CA 94109. Click here for Climate Justice Policy on Oil Refining background.
CBE responds to the settlement agreement between DTSC & Exide.
On November 6, 2014, the DTSC and Exide Technologies announced a settlement agreement purporting to resolve all compliance and other issues in dispute concerning the Vernon battery-recycling plant.
The settlement agreement caps Exide’s financial liability for residential cleanup at $9 million, even though there is nothing upon which the public can determine the reasonableness of that amount, and the scope and extent of contamination remain undetermined. The agreement also limits the number of residential properties that Exide may have to remediate, and leaves open the level to which it must remove lead contamination. Further, residents should not have to wait and continue to be exposed to dangerous levels of lead for up to five years, as provided in the agreement.
While the settlement agreement must still be approved by the bankruptcy court where Exide has a pending Chapter 11 case, the record indicates that a purpose of the agreement is to clear a path for the facility’s re-opening, its continued operations, and for the Department’s approval of the facility’s pending hazardous waste permit.
“Once again, we have been hit with an agreement between DTSC and Exide that fails to protect the public and the residents most impacted by this facility,” said Staff Attorney Yana Garcia. Garcia stated that “the Settlement provides no known recourse in the event of Exide’s liquidation, and sets forth arbitrary monetary amounts for clean-up before the Department has even finalized the scope and level of clean-up to necessary to deliver the protections it has promised residents. It is unacceptable for this Department to continue to proceed in a manner that prioritizes Exide’s ability to continue its operations, over the community’s health and wellbeing.”
CBE is disappointed that the DTSC entered into this settlement agreement without consulting with or notifying residents, whom are the people most impacted by the agreement. It is alarming that the Department proceeded without community input in limiting Exide’s liabilities and responsibilities at the cost of the community, especially in light of the haphazard process to date for soil testing and cleanup. The agreement’s limitations on Exide’s liabilities, and the ambiguities and contingencies of its terms create great uncertainty for affected residents and place their health in continued jeopardy.
CBE believes it is reckless for the State to allow continued operation of this facility, in light of its egregious history of violations of state and federal environmental laws, and which, in the state’s own words, has created “shockingly high” levels of contamination and cancer risks. No reasonable person would allow a childcare provider to stay in business after a history of abuse, nor a pilot to continue to carry people’s lives in her hands in light of a string of dangerous violations, and no reasonable state agency would allow Exide to continue to operate in Vernon.
DTSC’s actions show that it is once again relegating its affirmative obligations to enforce federal and state law to mere agreements, subject to conditions decided by only it and Exide. DTSC must remain accountable to the community, despite its agreement to limit Exide’s accountability.
CBE and allies are advocating for the Air District to take bold action to protect workers and communities with a new pledge to require a 20 percent reduction of refinery pollution by 2020. See Press Release.
We also proposed a worker-community approach to reducing Bay Area Refinery emissions to Air District Board and Staff. This approach was developed by refinery community, refinery worker, environmental, and academic groups and was first recommended in comments on the rule during 2013. It would require, by 2020, that each refinery reduce its emissions of specific pollutants1 by 20% or demonstrate that it is using the best emission control technology available.
Big Oil Companies are linking cheap, dangerous North American crude oil to West Coast refineries by any means necessary – rail, port and pipeline. [See more here]
Thanks to all CBE members and staff who eloquently spoke at last night City Council meeting. The City of Oakland Department Of Planning and Building recommendation adopted our Crematorium Ordinance.
This is based over two years of resident engagement in which the ordinance recommending The Planning Commission, and as Directed By City Council under Emergency Ordinance No. 13222 C.M.S., to amend the Planning Code to establish Permanent Regulations Pertaining To Crematories Within The City Of Oakland.
We continue to work to protect our community health and reforming planning department policies to prevent more pollution in our communities. Our members and allies successfully have been holding the City of Oakland and Planning Department accountable for no additional burden in East Oakland. For more information, read The Ugly Facts about the Proposed Crematorium.
Gov. Brown signed into law the Charge Ahead California Initiative (SB1275). This law is leading the way toward a clean energy future and making electric vehicles affordable for environmental justice communities. Read more here.
WE NEED YOUR HELP! SB 812, a bill that the The People’s Senate on DTSC—which includes CBE members–helped draft, and that Senator Kevin de León has championed, is on the Governor’s desk. SB 812 will help to clean up the Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and make the agency more accountable to communities. We need you to urge the Governor to sign this bill! Please mail or fax a letter TODAY to the Governor asking him to sign it.
Here is the address and fax number:
The Honorable Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Attn: Legislative Affairs
State Capitol, 1st Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 558-3177
**More about SB 812** SB 812 is an important step toward ensuring that California’s hazardous laws actually do what they were intended to do—protect Californians from harmful pollution. SB 812 enacts permitting requirements, and transparency and accountability measures desperately needed for DTSC to fulfill its mandate to protect Californians from toxic exposures. Additionally, it includes requirements to ensure that polluters, not tax payers, will be on the hook for cleaning up polluted sites.
We are fighting to make sure that the PUC will upholds its commitment to environmental justice communities! Read more here, and join CEJA this Thursday to support of renewable energy for the communities most impacted by dirty fossil fuels!