CBE Updates

[Press Release] Residents Call for Shut Down of Exide

Communities demand that the DTSC deny hazardous waste facility permit. Read more, here.

Contacts:

Robert Cabrales, CBE rcabrales@cbecal.org 323-826-9771, x 107
mark! Lopez, EYCEJ MLopez@eycej.org 323-263-2113
Monsignor John Moretta 323-261-5750

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, February 9, 2015

RESIDENTS CALL FOR SHUT DOWN OF EXIDE ACID-LEAD BATTERY SMELTER, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

Exide Neighbors Demand that the DTSC and Elected Officials

Deny Hazardous Waste Facility Permit

Nearly 200 residents from Boyle Heights to Maywood and Huntington Park gathered in a rally today to call on state officials to close down a lead-acid battery recycling plant in the City of Vernon. Spirited chanting of “stand by our side, shut down Exide,” was followed by impassioned testimony of residents and environmental justice advocates.

The plant, owned by Exide Technologies, is notoriously known for emitting dangerous levels of lead and arsenic into neighboring communities, and discharging at least 1,500 pounds of lead into the LA River watershed. Both Exide and the DTSC have come under fire in recent years, as residents have demanded that the state revoke the temporary permit that has allowed the facility to operate for over 30 years.

The protest was in response to eight new violations issued against Exide by the DTSC little over a week ago, including for using unauthorized tanks to treat contaminated sludge and having inadequate safeguards against battery acid spills. The violations come even as the plant is temporarily closed pursuant to orders of abatement issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Residents expressed indignation and outrage at the DTSC’s failure to deny Exide a pending application for a hazardous waste permit required under federal law, which has been languishing within the agency since it was first filed in 1988. The plant has since developed a long record of state and federal law violations.

Rally participants accused the DTSC of environmental racism, alleging that the majority Latino, working-class demographics of affected communities has played a role in the agency’s failure to close Exide. Milton Hernandez-Nimatuj, a Youth Organizer with Communities for a Better Environment, stated, “DTSC’s actions show that it has placed Exide’s and the State’s financial interests above the Latino communities’ human rights to breath clean air and live in safe communities.” Hernandez-Nimatuj pointed out that “an almost identical Exide facility was closed down by leaders of Frisco, Texas, an affluent, White-majority town, and yet the DTSC has opted to negotiate with Exide.” The DTSC has a history of imposing on Exide light fines, a patchwork of enforcement orders, and entering into settlement agreements.

In June 2014, the DTSC issued Exide a Third Notice of Deficiency, which under state law is a facility’s last opportunity to qualify for a hazardous waste permit. Rather than initiate permit denial proceedings, the agency entered into a settlement agreement in which Exide’s ongoing deficiencies were resolved by way

of settlement. Exide stated in a court filing that the settlement “paves the way for [it] to reopen the Vernon Facility and proceed with the final permit application process.” The DTSC struck the deal after previously determining that the plant posed an imminent and substantial danger to public health, worker safety and the environment, and after the SCAQMD concluded that is posed the greatest cancer risk to Southern California of the 450 facilities it has ever regulated.

Monsignor John Moretta and parishioners of Resurrection Church made a notable presence at the rally. Father Moretta, a well-known community leader and champion of local environmental justice issues, remarked, “Surely our political leadership agrees that the safety and health of 100,000 people is more important than 100 jobs which pose grave dangers to workers. Keep Exide closed. Help workers re-tool with clean jobs.”

mark! Lopez, Director of Eastyard Communities for Environmental Justice, testified that remediation efforts pursuant to the settlement agreement are also flawed. Over 60% of 108 homes that have had soil testing contain high-risk lead levels, and over 20% contain over 1,000 ppm of lead, which is classified as hazardous waste. According to Lopez, the remediation covers only a small residential area, and fails to reach other affected areas. Lopez stated, “My grandmother and mother fought against Exide in the 90’s. I’m standing here, fighting to shut down Exide permanently, so my toddler daughters won’t have to fight Exide to protect their children’s health in the future.”

According to Gladys Limón, staff attorney at CBE, state law prohibits the DTSC from granting Exide a hazardous waste permit if certain requirements are unmet, such as having an effective hazardous waste treatment process – the subject of the recently issued violations. Limón explained that, “The DTSC has a duty to initiate a permit denial process based on Exide’s historical and ongoing violations. It is reckless and creates dangerous precedent to allow a facility that has placed unconscionable health burdens on its workers and surrounding communities, to continue to operate.”

Exide currently faces various lawsuits, including from the AQMD and residents, as well as a federal criminal investigation arising from the Vernon plant’s lead and arsenic contamination. The LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to also initiate legal proceedings last November.

 

CBE Supports Striking Refinery Workers

Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) supports the refinery workers in the United Steelworkers International Union (USW) in their ongoing nationwide strike against oil refining corporations in the U.S.

At stake are worker health and safety rights—and, ultimately, our environmental health and safety, and yours.

Environmental justice demands everyone’s right to a safe and healthy work environment and challenges the false choice that would force us to choose between our health and our jobs. Indeed, fighting for worker rights protects community health and safety.

Our research documents a grim reality in refinery communities: preventable ‘incidents’ injure and kill workers and nearby residents alike while oil companies that fight stronger oversight still cut corners on safety in refineries. The workers on the front line, operating the plants, are our last line of defense against another toxic spill, fire, or explosion.

Worker rights are critical, also, to protecting our climate. The transformation from fossil energy to sustainable energy that we need to avert a climate disaster is a big job that will take all of us, and our solution needs to take care of all of us. CBE’s vision for climate justice demands a ‘just transition’ for workers, and that starts with worker rights.

The fight for clean, safe jobs is your fight too. We can be healthier and safer together.

Articles on the oil workers struggle:
East Bay USW Tesoro Workers Strike

Strike to Shutdown Major Bay Area Refinery

White House urges USW to strangle oil workers’ strike

Residentes Piden Justicia Ambiental! (English below)

Residentes exigen que agencias estales asuman responsabilidad y cumplan con leyes ambientales con cerre definitive de Planta Exide. [Aviso de Rueda de Prensa]

Residents and Exide neighbors call on the DTSC and elected officials to place community health and safety before financial interest. [Media Advisory]

 

 

 

[Media Advisory] Re: SCAQMD

Refinery neighbors and concerned groups testifying before SCAQMD on 02/06/15 to urge the governing board to proceed with a full environmental review. For CBE’s lawsuit challenging the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s rubber-stamping of a Phillips 66 expansion project in Carson, CA and the SCAQMD governing board hearing, click [HERE].

OXY Petroleum Pulls out of Carson!

Carson residents, CBE members and allies fought off 200 wells proposed in the City of Carson!

See CBE and the Center for Biological Diversity’s legal and technical comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Oxy’s massive oil production development proposal, and see our 2014 community update regarding the project, which could have involved dangerous well stimulation techniques including hydraulic fracturing and harmful air, soil and groundwater emissions in an already disproportionately burdened environmental justice community.

Check out more coverage of Oxy’s withdrawal [here] from the Daily Breeze.

CBE statement regarding police violence

December 11, 2014

CBE statement regarding police violence

Communities for a Better Environment joins the millions of people mourning the senseless violent killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. We mourn for Andy Lopez, Tamir Rice, and Ayina Jones, three children who fell victim to police violence. We mourn for Rekia Byod, Yvette Smith, and the countless women of color who have been killed by police but whose deaths are often not recognized as symptoms of the same racism that kills people of color. These men, women and children are now added to the impossibly long list of human beings whose breath has been stolen by actions of police who, more often than not, have gone unpunished.

The nature of these killings and the subsequent lack of justice represent a long history of total disregard for the lives of people of color in this country. Black people have been lynched, tortured, and killed by police for centuries; migrants from Mexico, Central and South America have been murdered by border patrol along the Mexico U.S border for decades; and Native Americans continue to suffer the consequences of government-sanctioned genocide.

We believe that the justice system is broken and unable to deliver justice for people of color. We support many proposed changes to help in the short term, but until we attack, head on, the root cause — institutionalized racism — communities of color will not have access to justice. This failure of justice applies as much to cops killing black men and women as it does to corporate polluters killing children and elders.

We stand in solidarity with our members in Southeast Los Angeles, Huntington Park, Wilmington, Richmond, Oakland and communities of color across the U.S as they demand justice for the lost lives as a result of poor air quality, exposure to toxins, lack of economic opportunity and the militarization of their communities.

Everyone has the right to a safe and healthy community. This is the fight for freedom to breathe.

Power to the People,

Byron Gudiel
Executive Director

For the PDF file click, here

CBE Exposes More Tar Sands Crude in California

CBE comments on 2 proposed projects to bring tar sands crude to key California Refineries. See CBE’s Phillips 66 Rodeo PRP Comments [HERE]; and our Phillips 66 Santa Maria Rail Spur Comments [HERE]

 

Call In for Clean Air

Thursday, Dec. 4, 2:30pm. Join CBE and allies for a virtual Town Hall on smog in LA. Learn how poor air quality effects you and how you can advocate for more clean air. More info on the call, here.

Healthy Future for California’s Latino Communities

December 10th, 9am-1pm at Lynwood Bateman Hall. Hear from our local elected officials of the Latino Legislative Caucus, top experts on environmental health issues and community leaders on air quality, clean transportation, and green jobs. More information here.

[Video] Los Angeles County Supervisors critical of DTSC & Exide settlement agreement

Supervisor Gloria Molina criticized DTSC for not protecting community needs and public health. NBC4 News reports from the news conference held on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014.

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