Southern California environment news and trends

EPA announces another $6.6 million in settlement money for San Gabriel Valley Superfund site


Southern California’s contributions to the Superfund list may be swelling, but so are the federal government’s coffers for cleanup of those old toxic sites. The Environmental Protection Agency says it’s arrived at three new settlements for cleanups in the San Gabriel Valley. This time around, the action stems from what companies did in South El Monte in what’s called Area 1 of this particular Superfund site.

Eleven current or former business owners agreed to pay a total of $6.6 million dollars toward cleanup: Quaker Chemical, Art Weiss, Inc., Astro Seal, Craneveyor Corporation, Earl Butler & Associates, M&T, Mary Brkich, New Air, Inc., Pacific Coast Drum Co., Seachrome Corporation, and Linderman Living Trust A. 

The money will go to the San Gabriel Basin Water Quality Authority, the agency specifically created to run cleanup work in the region. It’s got an agreement with the EPA, under which the feds provide money from settlements like these for the purpose of extracting and treating contaminated water.  


Why California recycles so few batteries

Molly Peterson/KPCC

Call2Recycle is a nonprofit company backed by the rechargeable battery industry that places boxes in stores to collect batteries, then picks up the cost of shipping the boxes to a recycling facility.

So, maybe it's not a shocker that stores don't want to pay to recycle batteries. People who buy batteries don't expect to pay again to recycle batteries either. But here's the trick: trashing batteries is illegal. California's Universal Waste Rule bans AAA, AA, C, D, button cell, 9-volts; rechargeables and alkalines, both. They contain copper, cadmium and lead.

It's not always easy to find places authorized to handle hazardous waste--the places batteries are supposed to go.  

The Department of Toxic Substances Control has a list of places statewide. But when I plugged in my zip code, it came up with only one place, and it only accepts CRTs (computer monitors). CalRecycle's upcoming collection events page stopped being updated five years ago. The City of LA's Department of Public Works offers permanent drop off sites in Glendale, San Pedro, Playa, Sun Valley, UCLA, and Washington at Santa Fe, south of downtown. The county offers one-day special collections. You can't say they're not trying. But I've never successfully made it to the one on Colorado near Glendale, my closest LA city site.