Mar 14, 2016
In March last year, Exide battery shut their plant in Los Angeles. This plant, located in Vernon, emitted lead-containing substances flying over Commerce, Bell, Huntington Park, East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights for decades. These toxic substances contaminated nearby houses. Air quality officials have said that this lead contamination can cause cancer to roughly 100,000 residents.
Exide agreed to clean up the area affected with their poison. But almost a year later, the State of California has cleaned fewer than 200 properties, although 10,000 properties were affected, according to the Los Angeles Times.
These are all working class communities. One East L.A. resident, Amelia Vallejo, whose five year old son Michael has severe developmental disabilities and is hard of hearing, told the Times: “We’ve been here for years and look at our kids … they’re damaged for life. Why don’t they come here and raise a commotion? Is it because we’re poor? Is it because we don’t speak out? Is it because we’re not white?”
Under the pressure of these working class people, the State of California recently came up with a proposal to spend close to 180 million dollars to test and clean the affected houses. This fund would be allocated from the state budget. The State says they would try to recoup the expense from Exide later. But, the state allowed the company to operate the plant for 30 years, despite repeated air-quality and hazardous-waste violations. So, recouping the cleaning money from the company is just hogwash. That is, the tax payers, the very people affected by this lead contamination, will pick up the bill.