DTSC Director Issues Response To Scathing Report On Agency Managers

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Toxics department director Debbie Raphael this week issued a statement on the agency's website defending its top managers and policies against a recent, scathing report by a non-profit environmental watchdog group alleging that the agency has a history of mismanaging hazardous waste and lax enforcement that puts many low-income communities at risk.

The non-profit group, Consumer Watchdog, also called on Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to dismiss two high-level officials at the department following the release of the report, arguing that the officials have a direct conflict of interest by owning significant amounts of stock in several corporations the department regulates.

Raphael's March 20 statement issued on the Department of Toxic Substances Control website says she recently met with state senators who have asked the Senate Office of Oversight & Outcomes to investigate the claims in the watchdog group's report (Inside Cal/EPA, March 1).

Raphael says she welcomes the investigation, which will complement an ongoing external review of the agency's permit program. "A report detailing the findings of our external review will be posted on our website when it is complete," Raphael says in the statement. "We look forward to using the recommendations made in both the Senate's investigation and in our own review to implement further changes to our programs." The statement is available on InsideEPA.com. (Doc ID: 2428506)

The statement also describes several internal initiatives that Raphael says DTSC is conducting to improve its work, including for permitting and enforcement, green chemistry, fiscal stability and alleged conflicts of interest by DTSC managers.

In response to the Consumer Watchdog group's request for two high-ranking DTSC officials to be fired, Raphael says the managers "appear to have been singled out based solely on the fact that they own stock in companies regulated by DTSC. Notwithstanding these allegations, both [officials] have fully disclosed their stock holdings by regularly filing their Form 700 as required" by the Fair Political Practices Commission, she said. "As an added precaution, I asked DTSC's legal office to review the forms filled out by [the officials], and to assess the likelihood of violations of the conflict of interest laws by virtue of their stock ownership. Based on its review of the conflict of interest laws and the available information, the legal office advised me that it had not discovered any evidence" that the DTSC officials violated the conflict of interest laws, the statement says.

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