Exide toxic waste from the plant continue to affect residents
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Six months ago, state officials discovered dangerous levels of toxic lead in most houses away from the site. Two months ago, officials estimated that 10,000 homes could be contaminated, putting kids in the area at risk for lead poisoning.
Everyone agrees that this is an urgent problem that needs immediate action, but the California Department of Toxic Substances Control has yet to act at a higher speed.
A resident of Boyle Heights was informed that his lawn was lead hazardous waste but have not yet cleaned. A reporter CBS2 / KCAL9 rented a device to scan and detect metals in the ground and tried the house next door. She Lead Found in 5,000 parts per million in the backyard where a child played -more than 60 times the levels of 80 ppm that would cause a cleaning. The boy's father told CBS that he had no idea that their neighborhood was contaminated with neurotoxin and that his son was at risk just to play in the yard.
Frustrated by the slow pace, the supervisor Hilda Solis wants the County of Los Angeles put $ 2 million to fund a public health campaign to warn residents of possible contamination, so that parents could protect their children.
He also wants county workers begin cleaning tests and identify high priority instead of waiting for state regulators. Solis is right. DTSC is expecting to have to know your sampling plan this week for public comment, with the goal (but not guaranteed) to begin testing and cleaning homes in November. This is seven months after residents were informed that their houses were contaminated. Where is the urgency?
The state is facing a capital company. Around 10,000 properties should be inpeccionadas and hundreds, perhaps thousands, need to be cleaned inside and outside at a cost of $ 50,000 each. Taxpayers are expected to pay most of that money, possibly a few hundred million dollars to speed up the work, while the state's lawyers seek to recover the costs of cleaning Exide.
The fiasco could have been avoided if regulators had simply applied state environmental laws. Exide DTSC allowed to operate for 30 years with a temporary permit and outdated pollution controls after their continuous violations. In March, Exide agreed to close its plant rather than face federal prosecution for environmental crimes.
Solis is right to push an aggressive campaign to a quick inspection of the houses and cleaning of contaminated properties, the longer are the toxic substances in homes and yards of residents unnoticed, the greater the number of children who could suffer damage permanent in their abilities by lead absorbed by their bodies.
The cost to society of accumulated while the clock ticks.
But not enough to accelerate cleaning. Solis and other elected officials should demand an independent investigation to find out how many state and federal agencies failed to regulate a major polluter. No agency has explained how the company was allowed to operate for so long with so many violations that endangered people.
Although the new director of DTSC has apologized for the way the agency conducted this case and promised to protect the health of the community from now on, the promise of a politician who supervice the department is not sufficient to ensure that institutional problems are corrected.
At this time, state officials are focused on cleaning the Exide plant and surrounding communities. Some say that an investigation will last only a distraction for regulators to try and repair the damage. But it would be misleading to go ahead regardless of the mistakes that put residents in danger. Without an independent, California is at risk of repeating these same mistakes that were made with Exide.