Court allows Exide to abandon a toxic site in Vernon. Taxpayers will fund the cleanup
Los Angeles Times – October 16
Chief Judge Christopher Sontchi of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of Delaware ruled last Friday that Exide Technologies may abandon its shuttered battery recycling plant in Vernon, leaving a massive cleanup of lead and other toxic pollutants to California taxpayers. The recycling operation, located about five miles from downtown Los Angeles, has not been fully demolished and remains partially enclosed in a temporary structure designed to prevent the release of the pollutants. A state-led cleanup has so far removed contaminated soil from 2,000 residential properties, but thousands more have yet to be cleaned in the largest remediation project of its kind in California. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency supported Exide’s bankruptcy plan, which also leaves behind toxic sites in several other states. California refused to sign on to the settlement, in which the state would receive $2.6 million in exchange for a broad release from liability.
Bisphenol A goes back on California’s Proposition 65 list
Chemical & Engineering News – October 21
California can include bisphenol A (BPA) on its list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer or reproductive harm under Proposition 65, a state appeals court ruled on October 19. California listed BPA as a reproductive toxicant in 2013, based on a 2008 report by the National Toxicology Program that found “some concern for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A” based upon animal studies. The American Chemistry Council, on behalf of chemical manufacturers, appealed the listing. The chemical is found in some food and beverage packaging and polycarbonate plastic goods. Under California’s Proposition 65 law, manufacturers must put warning labels on products sold in California that contain chemicals on the list. Such warnings will now be required for products containing BPA.
Roundup cancer case appeals turned down by California Supreme Court
San Francisco Chronicle – October 21
The California Supreme Court on Wednesday denied Monsanto’s appeal of a San Francisco jury’s verdict that found the company’s widely-used Roundup herbicide responsible for the school groundskeeper’s cancer, and that Monsanto disregarded public safety in marketing its product. The state Supreme Court also denied review of the groundskeeper’s appeal of a lower-court ruling that reduced his damages from $78.5 million to $21.5 million. Plaintiff’s case was the first in the nation to go to trial among thousands of lawsuits against Monsanto by cancer victims who had used its Roundup herbicide or a more concentrated version of the product called Ranger Pro. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is the world’s most widely used herbicide.
EPA eases permitting for modifications to polluting facilities
The Hill – October 22
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday finalized a rule that eases the permitting process for modifications made to polluting facilities. The rule changes the way the threshold for a more stringent type of permitting, “New Source Review,” is calculated in determining whether there will be a resulting “significant emissions increase,” by allowing both emissions increases and decreases resulting from the modification to be taken into account. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler argues that the action incentivizes industry to implement technology that would lessen air pollution.
California regulators want enforcement tools to help control air pollution near ports
KPBS – October 22
California air pollution regulators are considering how to enforce tough new rules aimed at diesel trucks and ships. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has a variety of enforcement measures to control the amount of pollution coming from traffic linked to ports. Regulators passed new rules this summer that speed up the adoption of electric vehicles and limit the impact of diesel engines. However, the rules are not effective if they cannot be enforced, so CARB is looking at different enforcement mechanisms. Tactics include tracking truck movements through neighborhoods and using portable emission measuring systems.