Santa Monica, CA—The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) approved a permit for a hazardous waste facility in violation of Irwindale’s zoning rules, wrote residents and environmental advocates in a letter urging city officials to overturn the decision when the city council meets tomorrow.
The used motor oil recycling plant would be built next to a sensitive ecological area, the Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area, said the letter copied to state lawmakers, the California Attorney General and the Governor.
“You do have the power to require land use approvals for this project and to protect the environment and your citizens from this ill-considered hazardous waste facility,” residents and advocates wrote. “In fact, Irwindale’s zoning code and general plan both prohibit this facility, and the City would be violating its own laws that it established to protect people if it does not require the applicant to obtain the necessary approvals before it begins construction.”
“A pattern of legally questionable actions by the DTSC, of which Irwindale is only the latest, make the case for suspending its funding until the department is overhauled,” said Consumer Watchdog Advocate Liza Tucker. “I would not be surprised if this wasn’t the first time that DTSC has stuffed a facility down the throats of a disadvantaged community that doesn’t want it.”
Irwindale’s municipal code prohibits recycling facilities from processing or accepting hazardous materials, including automotive fluids, on the land slated for the plant. DTSC claimed in its Environmental Impact Review that an unnamed city official said the zoning allowed for such a facility, according to the letter.
DTSC approved the permit for CleanTech Environmental, a hazardous waste hauler with a spotty record, to build the facility a stone’s throw away from the highly frequented lake and recreation area in Irwindale without taking environmental justice into account. “It is difficult to conceive of a land use decision that could be more harmful to environmental justice,” the letter said.
Irwindale residents are largely Latino and economically disadvantaged. The community already borders at least a dozen other facilities that generate, transport, treat, or dispose of hazardous waste. DTSC’s review brushed aside cumulative impacts of one more hazardous waste plant in the area, did not adequately consider the seismology of the area, and potential for spills inside the facility or during transport in and out of the area, said Tucker.
The DTSC’s decision to grant the permit outraged advocates, environmental justice leaders, labor groups, faith leaders, and hundreds of community members who last month petitioned Governor Jerry Brown to revoke DTSC’s decision. The Governor’s office has not responded.
For more on DTSC and CleanTech, see: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/broad-coalition-unites-urge-governor-brown-overturn-decision-build-hazardous%C2%A0waste-recyc