Governor Signs Lara Bill Updating Toxic Waste Facility Permitting Criteria

October 08, 2015

SACRAMENTO, CA – Governor Jerry Brown today signed Senate Bill 673 by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) to establish additional permitting criteria that the Department of Toxic Substances Control must consider when deciding to issue or renew a permit for a hazardous waste facility. The new law responds to recent high profile cases such as Exide in Vernon that have raised real concerns about the accountability of toxic waste facilities and their responsibility to the communities they impact.

"This new law is a major victory for public health and environmental justice in California,” said Senator Lara. “SB673 enacts important reforms to provide accountability, transparency, and oversight measures for the Department of Toxic Substances Control to ensure that our residents don’t suffer from offenders who are having dangerous impacts on the health of our communities.”

Recent high profile cases involving permitted facilities such as the Exide Technologies battery recycling facility in Vernon, CA, and the Kettleman Hills Hazardous Waste Facility in Kings County, have raised significant environmental justice concerns from the communities surrounding the facilities and have led to criticism of the department’s permitting procedures and responsiveness to community concerns. Facilities that manage hazardous materials in California are regulated by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).  The department issues different permits, based on the activities of the facility, the types of materials they handle, and the risk they pose to public health and safety.

SB 673 provides important accountability, transparency, and oversight measures that will improve the relationship between DTSC and the communities it is mandated to protect.

The bill establishes important criteria for DTSC to consider when issuing or renewing a permit for a hazardous waste facility.  SB 673 directs the department to consider impacts on sensitive receptors, such as schools, child care facilities, hospitals, and elder care facilities located near the facility.  The bill also requires the department to consider whether the facility has provided sufficient financial assurances to responsibly operate.

“This bill brings us one step closer to restoring the public’s faith and confidence in regulatory agencies entrusted to protect public health,” added Lara