SACRAMENTO – Today the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) released the draft plan for cleaning up lead-impacted soil in residential neighborhoods near the closed Exide Technologies plant in Vernon.
“The Department and Governor Brown are committed to holding Exide and other responsible parties accountable, safeguarding the communities and workers around the former Exide Facility, and protecting the environment throughout this cleanup process,” said DTSC Director Barbara A. Lee. “This is a crucial step in the process and we invite the public’s input as we develop final plans.”
The Cleanup Plan and the accompanying Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) are key steps toward protecting the community from the past impacts of Exide, and is a prerequisite to the cleanup of residential properties, schools, parks, daycare and childcare centers. The Cleanup Plan and draft EIR must be approved and certified before DTSC can start removing soil in the area within an approximately 1.7-mile radius near the former battery-recycling facility.
In April 2016, Governor Brown signed into legislation $176.6 million general fund loan to expedite and expand testing of approximately 10,000 properties and to cleanup about 2,500 properties with the highest levels of lead and greatest risk of exposure.
The public and other key stakeholders have between December 15, 2016 and January 31, 2017 to comment on the proposed cleanup plan and draft EIR. Public meetings to gather input are scheduled for:
Wednesday Jan. 11, from 6-9 p.m. at Our Lady of Victory Church, East Los Angeles.
Thursday Jan. 19, from 6-9 p.m. at Maywood City Council Chambers, Maywood
Saturday Jan 28, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Resurrection Church, Boyle Heights.
In addition, the cities of Vernon, Bell, Maywood, and Huntington Park plan to host informational sessions at council meetings in January.
DTSC proposes to evaluate the potential health risks at each property using a Health Based Screening and Cleanup Level, which is the 95% Upper Confidence Level (UCL) of 80 parts per million (ppm) for lead in soil. This science-based method is universally used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and environmental state agencies across the nation. The 95% UCL is a health-protective statistical method that analyzes soil sample results across an entire property, and is more health protective than averaging the samples.
The soil at residences, schools, daycare and childcare centers, and parks would be cleaned up to a level not exceeding 80 ppm of lead. DTSC has committed to clean up about 2,500 sensitive land use properties where lead levels are the highest and potential exposure is greatest would be cleaned up within a two year period once the Project is approved. The cleanups could actually occur at a rate of between 25 and 70 properties in any one week, with an average of 50 per week.
Here are some key highlights of the proposed Cleanup Plan and Draft EIR:
Prioritizes properties for cleanup by conducting a case-by-case assessment of exposures to lead in soil across an entire property, and then rank properties based on their risks.
Prioritizes the cleanup of, daycare and childcare centers due to the impacts lead exposure can have on the development of young children.
Plans for the removal of lead-impacted soil, six-inches in depth at a time, until clean soil is found or to a depth of 18 inches. Fill excavated areas with clean soil and replace landscapes.
Provides temporary relocation to families during cleanup and will also offer interior cleaning of homes.
Plans for the use of low-emission trucks and equipment, air monitoring, dust suppression, visible flags on truck carrying lead-impacted soil, and other safeguards to protect the health of community members and workers.
Proposes the consideration of soil washing – a technology that uses liquids (usually water, sometimes combined with chemical additives) and a mechanical process to scrub soils. Soil washing can potentially reduce the amount of lead-impacted soil transported to and disposed of in landfills.
As part of the $176.6 million, DTSC created the Workforce for Environmental Restoration in Communities (WERC) program to train under-employed residents who live in the communities impacted by the Exide Facility in environmental fields. Between July and December 2016, the WERC program hired 45 local residents as Certified Lead Sampling Technicians to safely perform lead sampling in their communities in Phase 1 of the program. In Phase II, the program will include additional training for skilled jobs in soil remediation, lead hazard control, interior home cleaning, landscaping, and health education.
This residential draft Cleanup Plan comes out a week after the Final Closure Plan was released for the 15-acre Exide Facility site in Vernon. The Final Closure Plan is a blueprint for cleaning up the Exide facility and for the removal of structures at the facility.
To find copies of the Draft Cleanup Plan and Draft EIR and to learn how you can submit comments before the January 31, 2017 deadline, click here.