Communities contaminated from the former Exide battery recycling plant received a big win today following a vote from Sacramento lawmakers. The Assembly Budget Committee has approved $16 million in funds for the cleaning of parkways in First District communities.
“Residents, including many children, track dirt into their homes by walking through the parkways. Ensuring that these parkways are clean of Exide lead is an essential piece of our comprehensive cleanup plan,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “The County and our representatives in Sacramento have listened to the communities affected by the Exide battery recycling plant and their demand is loud and clear: the parkways must be cleaned. Thank you to our community members for fighting for this much needed funding for clean parkways – your voices have been heard. Our residents and children deserve nothing less than a comprehensive cleanup!”
To date, only 330 homes have been cleaned by DTSC. LA County estimates more than 5,000 parcels need to be cleaned.
Earlier this year, Supervisor Solis met with state legislators to discuss the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) failures and the County’s plan to help those families affected by Exide. The County identified crucial discrepancies in DTSC’s plan including the complete exclusion of cleanup of parkways of affected properties, which the County recommended to be cleaned. Parkways are the piece of land between the curb and the sidewalk that are adjacent to each residence. Children often play in the parkways, and the lead contamination can be carried to the rest of the property by people, animals, and wind. The County continues to work hand-in-hand with Sacramento officials to speed-up the cleanup process and ensure a thorough plan is put in motion.
Speaker Anthony Rendon said, “The communities that have been plagued for decades by Exide’s pollution deserve relief. The budget actions taken by the Assembly today will speed testing and cleaning of parkways, increase coordination between the county and the state, and provide oversight to ensure the clean-up is proceeding effectively. Our hope is that these steps can help in easing residents’ concerns and in making sure the air, water and soil in their communities are safe. I thank the members of the Assembly Budget Committee for including these items in the budget, and I applaud Supervisor Solis and community leaders for their effectiveness in advocating for these badly needed next steps.”
“Our community is right to be concerned about Exide lead contamination from parkways in our neighborhoods. We are all understandably frustrated with cleanup delays, but we must also ensure that the cleanup is comprehensive,” said Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles). “That is why in the Assembly, we have approved $16 million dedicated for parkway cleanup and adopted language to ensure maximum coordination between the county and DTSC to clean up our homes. We will be holding an oversight hearing in August on all aspects of the Exide cleaning to ensure that the department is held to transparent and accountable standards. I commend my colleagues on Assembly Budget Subcommittee 3, Speaker Rendon, Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Solis for pushing these items forward.”
“This funding is an important next step in the Exide cleanup. Our communities have been neglected on this issue for far too long. The residents of Boyle Heights, Vernon, Huntington Park and other areas demanded the inclusion of parkways in this cleanup and their voices were heard,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). “I am staying on top of this disaster and will keep fighting for my community. I applaud all of the project’s stakeholders for moving this money forward – especially my colleagues Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis.”
Today’s victory comes a day after the Board of Supervisors approved a motion, authored by Supervisor Solis, to submit an amicus brief in support of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in CDPH’s appeal of the lawsuit brought by Exide Technologies. Supervisor Solis testified at a Sacramento hearing two years ago to request funding for residential cleanup. Following that hearing, Governor Brown identified $176.6 million to begin to address the contamination caused by Exide in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Before final approval of the funds, the Conference Committee will meet to agree on the Exide funding.
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