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Cervantes Introduces Bill to Enhance Community Protection around the Stringfellow Acid Pits Superfund Site

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO) – Today, Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside) announced the introduction of Assembly Bill 777. The bill is a response to the recent transfer by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) of hazardous materials from the Exide Battery Plant site in Los Angeles County to the Stringfellow Acid Pits in the City of Jurupa Valley, a community that is predominantly Latino. AB 777 would prohibit the treatment, storage, transfer, or disposal of any kind of waste—including soil samples—generated from any other toxic waste site at Stringfellow. The bill would also require public notification of any other materials being transferred to Stringfellow within three days of that transfer. Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside) will be a principal co-author of the bill.

“It is outrageous that DTSC would use our Inland Empire communities as a dumping ground for toxic substances from other parts of the state,” said Assemblymember Cervantes. “The residents of Jurupa Valley are justifiably outraged at the Department’s continued violation of the public’s trust exhibited by the transfer of these soil samples to the Stringfellow site. Assembly Bill 777 will uplift the voices of the Jurupa Valley community by strengthening the statutory prohibitions against DTSC transferring potentially toxic materials from other sites to Stringfellow.”

In the Spring of 2022, DTSC disclosed to Jurupa Valley residents that it had transferred six forty-foot containers of lead-contaminated soil samples taken from the Exide Battery Plant site to the Stringfellow site. Both DTSC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claim that these soil samples do not constitute “hazardous substances” generated by Exide, which are prohibited by existing state law from being transferred to Stringfellow. Under intense pressure from both community leaders and the City of Jurupa Valley, DTSC eventually removed these soil samples from the Stringfellow site.

Existing state law prohibits the treatment, storage, transfer, or disposal of “hazardous substances” from other toxic waste sites at Stringfellow. AB 777 will expand these prohibitions to include any kind of waste—including, but not limited to, liquid waste, solid waste, and hazardous waste. The bill would also require that DTSC notify the City of Jurupa Valley and the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, in addition to posting a notice on the Department’s website, within three days if any material or substance generated from any other toxic waste site is treated, stored, transferred to, or disposed of at the Stringfellow Acid Pits site. These disclosures would not only serve to protect public health and prevent further exposure but will empower the community, the City of Jurupa Valley, and the Riverside County Board of Supervisors with the ability to hold DTSC accountable for their actions regarding Stringfellow.

In the 1970s, the Inland Empire communities that now comprise the City of Jurupa Valley were traumatized by the disclosure that more than 33 million gallons of toxic industrial waste had been deposited in the Stringfellow Rock Quarry between 1956 and 1972 at the direction of the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board. This led to the discovery that the toxic waste deposited at Stringfellow had contaminated the community’s groundwater and drinking water supply, posing a serious threat to the health and safety of residents. By 1983, the contamination was so expansive that Stringfellow was named a Superfund site, and regarded as one of the nation’s most polluted places. After decades of litigation, community activism, and legislative efforts, the cleanup of Stringfellow began in the 1980s, administered by DTSC. The cleanup effort is expected to take 500 years to complete.

Assembly Bill 777 will next be given a hearing by the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials. You can find more information about AB 777 here.
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Sabrina Cervantes is a mother of triplets who proudly represents the 58th District of the California State Assembly, which encompasses the Inland Empire cities of Grand Terrace and Jurupa Valley; portions of the cities of Corona, Eastvale, and Riverside; and the unincorporated communities of Coronita, El Cerrito, Highgrove, and Home Gardens. Cervantes also serves as Chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus.