RELEASE: Statement by the Pro Tem on DTSC and Exide Vernon Facility Permit Renewal

Monday, March 09, 2015

Repeated failures by the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) have shown that our current system for handling hazardous waste is broken.

Exide Technologies has operated a lead battery recycling facility without a permit in Vernon for over 30 years and repeatedly violated environmental and safety standards emitting lead, arsenic and other contaminants into communities.

Exide Vernon has represented a dangerous lapse in the state's hazardous waste tracking system and lack of enforcement has led to detrimental impacts on public health and the environment within communities I represent in Los Angeles, including Boyle Heights, East and South East L.A.

Last year, I authored legislation (SB 812) that would have put in place permanent reforms at DTSC to make it more effective and restore confidence in California residents that the agency responsible for protecting them from hazardous materials was doing its job.

Following the veto of that measure by Governor Brown, the Senate initiated close oversight of DTSC operations and my staff has been in close contact with DTSC Director Barbara Lee and her colleagues to address issues at the Exide Vernon facility.

New findings from the California Environmental Protection Agency presented to my staff last week show even more violations of hazardous waste control happening at the facility this year, including serious flaws in the buildings' structures.

With Exide Vernon's permit now up for renewal, on Friday I wrote a letter urging DTSC Director Lee to deny a new permit, close the facility, and immediately begin cleanup. 

For far too long, lead and other hazardous waste materials have been leaking into the streets where children play.Those who let this happen must be held accountable.

Serious reforms are needed at DTSC to prevent this from ever happening again. On Thursday, the Senate will hold its budget oversight hearing for the Department and we expect to hear how they are making protection of public health and environment their top priority.

Letter to DTSC Director Lee (3/6/2015)