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Governor Signs CERVANTES Bill to Enhance Community Protection around the Stringfellow Acid Pits Superfund Site

For immediate release:

Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 777 by Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside) into law, enhancing public health protections regarding the Stringfellow Acid Pits Superfund site in the City of Jurupa Valley. AB 777 prohibits the treatment, storage, transfer, or disposal of any kind of sample or waste generated from any other toxic waste site—including soil samples—at Stringfellow. This new law will also require public notification of any materials from other toxic waste sites transferred to Stringfellow at least three days before that transfer occurs. Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside) is a principal co-author of the bill.

“I am grateful to Governor Newsom for signing my Assembly Bill 777. This new law 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,” 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. It is outrageous that DTSC would use our Inland Empire communities as a dumping ground for toxic substances from other parts of the state.”

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, to Stringfellow. 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 community leaders, advocacy organizations, and the City of Jurupa Valley, DTSC eventually removed these soil samples from Stringfellow.

Prior state law prohibited the treatment, storage, transfer, or disposal of “hazardous substances” from other toxic waste sites at Stringfellow. AB 777 expands these prohibitions to include samples or waste of any kind—including, but not limited to, liquid waste, solid waste, and hazardous waste—generated at other toxic waste sites. This new law also requires that DTSC notify the City of Jurupa Valley, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, and the Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, in addition to posting a notice on the Department’s website, at least three days before 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. This requirement would not apply to substances or materials that are necessary to continue the ongoing cleanup efforts at Stringfellow. Furthermore, these disclosures would not only serve to protect public health, but will provide the community, the City of Jurupa Valley, and the Riverside County Board of Supervisors with the added ability to hold DTSC accountable for their actions at 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 severe 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 go into effect on January 1, 2023. You can find more information about AB 777 here.

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Sabrina Cervantes is a working 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.