LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis released the following statement after providing testimony at an oversight hearing, convened by the State of California’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee and the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee, regarding the recent audit report of the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) progress to clean up residential properties contaminated by high levels of lead by Exide Technologies, the former battery recycling facility in the City of Vernon:
“The State Auditor’s report has validated the concerns many of us continue to have about the inadequate pace of the residential cleanup and how DTSC is spending the enormous amount of public resources dedicated to this cleanup.
While I am pleased that over 2,000 residential properties have been cleaned up to date, this pace is still too slow. The longer the cleanup takes, the longer our communities will continue to be exposed to dangerous lead contamination.
To that end, during my public testimony, I highlighted and expressed my support for the following key audit recommendations:
- First, the Auditor’s report appropriately identifies measures to help control the residential cleanup costs and avoid continuing future cost over-runs, and these measures must be implemented with regular progress reports made to the State Legislature.
- Second, DTSC must be compelled to pick up the pace of its cleanup, publish a schedule for that work, and be held accountable to that schedule. Further, I believe the creation of a strike team by the Governor, to oversee and advise the Administration on the cleanup, would help provide necessary, additional oversight.
- Third, our families deserve a timeline for completing the cleanup as they have suffered for far too long. That is why I fully support the Auditor’s recommendation that by no later than April 2021, DTSC must identify and publicize the date by which it expects to complete its cleanup of all 7,800 contaminated properties.
- Fourth, the State must identify sufficient funds for the cleanup of all residential properties contaminated by Exide. In light of Exide’s bankruptcy and abandonment of the Vernon facility, the State needs to step in to fund and complete the important work without further delay. In addition, I recommend that the State look into establishing a fund for the complete cleanup of sites like Exide – perhaps similar to the federal Superfund Trust Fund, which receives appropriations from Congress.
- Fifth, DTSC needs to press forward on the stalled cleanup of the parkway properties adjacent to the contaminated residences, so all parts of the residential properties are cleaned completely, concurrently, and efficiently going forward. By cleaning up the parkways we can reassure our communities that the cleanup is thorough and complete.
- Lastly, I would like to recommend that the State Legislature revisit Assemblymember Cristina Garcia’s bill, AB 995, which would have provided additional oversight of DTSC. While AB 995 was vetoed, I trust that the Legislature and the Governor will continue working to increase accountability and make improvements that will truly safeguard the public health of vulnerable communities and ensure abandoned sites are cleaned up.
The County of Los Angeles remains committed to working with the State to help expedite the cleanup. Together we can overcome the challenges and deliver the cleanup that my constituents in the communities of Bell, Boyle Heights, Commerce, East LA, Huntington Park, Maywood, and Vernon deserve.”
CONTACT: Kimberly Ortega, Acting Communications Director, (213) 361-6435 or KOrtega@bos.lacounty.gov