Contaminated Exide plant turned over to California environmental trust
The Mercury News – October 24
A state environmental trust will take over the Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon to prevent its bankrupt owners from abandoning the heavily contaminated facility, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced last Friday. Reversing its earlier objections to the trust, California agreed to its creation after a federal judge on Thursday rejected an emergency request to prevent Exide from abandoning the site on October 30 as part of a bankruptcy proceeding. The trust “avoids the many legal challenges posed by abandonment and ensures an orderly transition of ownership and responsibility for maintenance and site cleanup — all with DTSC’s close supervision and oversight,” the state agency said in a statement. The bankruptcy case, which DTSC concurrently is appealing, freed Exide from its financial and administrative liabilities, but not from potential criminal charges.
Riverside County development scaled back to help mountain lions
The Press-Enterprise – October 26
The 2-1/2-year legal battle over a proposed 1,750-home development in Temecula was settled on Monday when conservation groups reached a settlement with the developer of the 270-acre Altair development that will protect a wildlife corridor for locally endangered mountain lions and fund other restoration efforts. The developer agreed not to build on 55 acres considered crucial for the lions’ future and will help acquire additional wildlife habitat for permanent preservation, according to the settlement. The lions of the Santa Ana Mountains are surrounded by freeways and could go extinct in the next few decades because of inbreeding unless the population’s genetics are able to diversify with those of the far larger lion population east of Interstate 15, according to a 2019 study.
Court allows EPA to delay rules limiting release of methane from landfills
San Francisco Chronicle – October 23
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted legally in authorizing itself to delay Obama administration rules intended to limit emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases and pollutants from landfills. Regulations of solid-waste landfills, a significant source of air pollution, were first proposed under the Clean Air Act in 1991 and adopted by the EPA in August 2016. They set guidelines to reduce emissions and timetables for plans to implement those standards. When the EPA failed to meet those deadlines, U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam, in a suit filed by California, other states, and environmental groups, ordered the EPA to submit a federal plan by November 2019. Instead, the agency adopted the new regulations upheld by the Ninth Circuit this week, which postponed its deadline to November 2021.
Bed Bath & Beyond to pay $1.49 million to settle hazardous dumping lawsuit
CBS – October 28
Bed Bath & Beyond will pay nearly $1.5 million to settle a civil enforcement lawsuit stemming from allegations that more than 200 of its California stores illegally dumped hazardous materials in local landfills, authorities announced this Wednesday. Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, along with 30 other California district attorneys and the Los Angeles City Attorney, announced the settlement against the New Jersey-based retailer. In the action they had accused Bed Bath & Beyond of unlawfully handling, transporting, and disposing of batteries, electronic devices, ignitable liquids, aerosol products, cleaning agents, and other flammable, reactive, toxic, and corrosive materials at local landfills that were not permitted to receive such waste. The investigation into Bed Bath & Beyond began in Ventura County in 2015 after a fire at an Oxnard trash and recycling facility was attributed to a load of waste from the trash compactor of a local Bed Bath & Beyond store.
Representative Levin introduces nuclear waste inspection bill
The San Diego Union-Tribune – October 23
Representative Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, introduced a bill that would require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to keep an inspector at decommissioned nuclear power plants across the country when the facilities transfer nuclear waste from wet storage pools into canisters. The proposed legislation comes after Levin’s call for a full-time inspector to be stationed at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station during the plant’s transfer operations was rejected by the NRC last year. In August 2018, while Southern California Edison (SCE), which operates the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, was in the midst of transferring canisters filled with spent fuel from wet storage at San Onofre, a 50-ton canister was left suspended about 18 feet from the floor for about 45 minutes. The incident led to the NRC fining SCE $116,000.