Advocates Call For Tougher Leader At California Department Of Toxic Susbstances Control

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A Santa Monica-based advocacy group that has been critical of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control called on Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday to appoint a new director who will raise regulation standards on contaminated sites and bring reform to the agency.

In a letter and report sent to Brown, Consumer Watchdog outlined how contaminated properties such as the Santa Susana Field Laboratory have not been cleaned up because of too much influence from corporations as well as haphazard enforcement by the DTSC.

A Consumer Watchdog report released last year called Golden Wasteland outlined the troubles at various sites statewide because of the DTSC’s lack of enforcement.

In May, Debbie Raphael, who oversaw the DTSC since 2011, resigned.

“The case of the Santa Susana Field Lab is not isolated, but emblematic of the dysfunctional relations between DTSC regulators and the major companies that it regulates,” according to Consumer Watchdog advocate Liza Tucker, who also authored a new 56-page report on Santa Susana called Inside Job.

In December, a Superior Court judge granted a preliminary injunction against the DTSC saying the state agency failed to comply with environmental laws while overseeing Boeing’s demolition and disposal of buildings at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. The injunction remains in effect, pending a full hearing.

“For far too long, the DTSC has not been responsible, accountable, or transparent,” Tucker wrote in the letter. “For this reason, we urge you not to leave the DTSC in limbo. That will only give industry and its highly paid hired guns plenty of room to push for as weak a regulator as possible. Public health does not have to come at the expense of corporate wealth. And the person ultimately chosen as DTSC Director must have a plan to fix both the culture and the regulatory process at this deeply troubled agency.”

DTSC spokeswoman Tamma Adamek called the Consumer Watchdog report flawed.

“The Department of Toxic Substances Control is committed to a complete, science-based cleanup of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory site that fully protects public health and the environment as required by California law,” Adamek said in a written statement. “All of our decisions have and will continue to be made through a transparent process with full opportunity for the public to participate.”

A spokesman for Brown’s office also sent a brief statement, but did not elaborate on a replacement for Raphael.

“For every appointment, the administration looks for the best possible, most-qualified candidates to take on the challenges facing the state — and this position is no different,” the Governor’s Office statement said.

Reach the author at [email protected] or follow Susan on Twitter: @sabramLA.

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