06/09/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/10/2023 00:12
LOS ANGELES, CA - U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) traveled to Southeast Los Angeles County to meet with community leaders and families impacted by lead contamination caused by a nearby former Exide Technologies Inc. facility. Padilla was joined by Representatives Robert Garcia (D-Calif.-42) and Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.-34), Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), and local community leaders in calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate the impacted neighborhoods as a Superfund site, which will help provide critical resources and expertise for a proper clean-up. During the visit, Padilla received a briefing on the status of neighborhoods containing lead-contaminated soil while he toured a home currently undergoing the decontamination process.
"For decades, Exide dumped lead and hazardous contaminants into these communities without consequence, and it's clear to me that this community of neighbors, friends, and families has been neglected by just about everyone involved," said Senator Alex Padilla. "There's been misstep after misstep and it's time to finally put an end to that and provide justice. I'm calling on the EPA to formally designate these impacted neighborhoods as a federal Superfund site to provide critical federal resources and expertise to make sure Southeast Los Angeles can count on a thorough clean up that prioritizes the health and safety of everyone who lives here."
"What Exide Technologies has done to our community is tragic and unacceptable. Politically connected polluters can't be free to walk away, while working class families pick up the pieces. Senator Padilla and I have called for the EPA to designate this environmental catastrophe as a superfund site and we cannot wait around while our community and people suffer the consequences," said Congressman Robert Garcia.
"During the Trump era, the administration let Exide walk away from all criminal liability and responsibility to clean up their facility and surrounding areas, leaving California taxpayers on the hook for the largest environmental clean-up in state history," said Congressman Jimmy Gomez. "While a superfund designation brings resources and federal funding to the remediation process, it too often goes over budget and over the projected timeline. I'm demanding a fast and effective solution that will make homeowners and families in this area whole again."
"As a father of two young children, we cannot let our soil be contaminated by lead where our children play. Lead poisoning can lead to developmental delays, miscarriages, and worse," said Assembly Member Santiago. "This is why I have been working nonstop with community leaders and passing legislation to increase funding, increase oversight and increase the speed of Exide's clean-up. As part of that, I am so happy to work with Senator Padilla's team to make Exide a superfund site so we can expedite the clean-up and eliminate Exide's disastrous effect on our community once and for all."
The former Exide Technologies was responsible for dumping lead and other hazardous contaminants into the air, soil, and water surrounding their Vernon battery recycling plant. This contamination has impacted mostly working-class, Latino communities who continue to suffer from cancer, asthma, learning disabilities, dangerous levels of lead in their blood, and more. Under the Trump administration, the EPA and Department of Justice supported a bankruptcy plan for Exide that let them walk away from all criminal liability and responsibility to clean up the facility and surrounding areas, leaving California taxpayers on the hook for the largest environmental clean-up in state history.
In February of this year, Senator Padilla and Representative Garcia urged EPA Administrator Michael Regan to designate neighborhoods in Southeast Los Angeles County as a Superfund site. Padilla has called on the Department of Justice to improve enforcement of environmental laws in the Central District of California and explain their policy regarding the use of non-prosecution agreements that spare corporate polluters of criminal liability, specifically in communities in the Los Angeles area, which are severely impacted by multiple sources of pollution. Padilla also previously introduced legislation to establish an Office of Environmental Justice and an Environmental Justice Section at the Department of Justice to strengthen efforts at the Department to hold polluters in environmental justice communities accountable and support state and local environmental enforcement capacity.
Recording of the press conference can be viewed HERE.