California Latino Legislative Caucus thanks Gov. Jerry Brown for $177 million in budget to expedite cleanup of homes near toxic Exide plant in Vernon
SACRAMENTO — The California Latino Legislative Caucus today thanked Gov. Jerry Brown for proposing a $176.6 million spending plan to fund expedited and expanded testing and cleanup of residential properties, schools, daycare centers and parks around the former Exide Technologies facility in Vernon.
The $176.6 plan will ensure all residential properties, schools, daycare centers and parks within the 1.7 mile radius of the Exide Technologies facility are tested and contaminated soil removed where lead levels are the highest and potential exposure the greatest.
“The majority of the families who live in these tainted homes, attend these polluted schools and play in these contaminated parks are poor and Latino,” said Assemblymember Luis A. Alejo (D-Salinas), who chairs the Latino Caucus. “On behalf of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, I want to thank Governor Jerry Brown for understanding the peril these families live with every day and for taking significant actions to address what has been an egregious environmental injustice.”
"I plan to work with the Governor, the Assembly Budget Committee and Assembly Leadership to ensure the resources get to the communities so that the cleanup begins right away," added Alejo, who also chairs the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials (ESTM) Committee. Alejo called a hearing of the ESTM Committee on the Exide cleanup last month at the Capitol and is planning a follow up hearing for July in Los Angeles.
“Today is a good day for our community and the message is clear, we matter and the Latino Caucus will always fight for us,” said Assemblymember Christina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), a member of the Latino Caucus whose district includes many of the polluted properties. “Thanks to the Governor, Latino Caucus members and Chair, Assemblymember Luis Alejo, Speaker-elect Anthony Rendon and President pro Tempore Kevin de León for their proven leadership. This is a team effort and is a huge step in the right direction.”
The Exide facility in Vernon recycled lead from used automotive batteries and other sources. The facility could process about 25,000 automotive and industrial batteries a day, providing a source of lead for new batteries. Over the course of decades of operation, the facility polluted the soil beneath it with high levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium and other toxic metals. It also has contaminated groundwater, released battery acid onto roads and contaminated homes and yards in surrounding communities with lead emissions. In March, 2015, Exide was forced to close the facility for good and, under a state agreement with DTSC, set aside $7.7 million to test homes and other structures around the facility for pollution resulting from the facility.
DTSC estimates homes between 1.3 and 1.7 miles away from the facility may potentially be affected by Exide’s lead contamination – that equates to somewhere between 5,000 - 10,000 residential properties.
Cleaning each home costs about $45,000, according to DTSC. If the cleanup grows to thousands of properties, it could cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Removing lead-contaminated soil from thousands of homes surrounding Exide could result in the most extensive cleanup of its kind in California and among the largest ever conducted in the nation.
CONTACT: Andrew Bird / (916) 319-2030 / Andrew.Bird@asm.ca.gov