For the first time, Los Angeles County is testing soil for lead poisoning in the City of Commerce, one of several communities known to be contaminated by the closed Exide plant in Vernon. On Monday, County crews began their undertaking of the cleanup effort that has been long fought by both local residents and politicians, KPCC reports.
The Exide battery recycling factory closed last year due to various violations of environmental codes. Nearby homes in Maywood and Boyle Heights were initially shown to be contaminated with toxic levels of lead. The affected area was expanded 1.7 miles last August to include more homes in Bell, Huntington Park, East Los Angeles and Commerce.
The Department of Toxic Substances Control, the state agency in charge of the lead testing, has long been criticized by local leaders and elected officials for taking too long with the cleanup. The agency contends a lack of funding had tied their hands but recently, Governor Jerry Brown announced a plan that would provide an additional $177 million to test 10,000 homes. That proposal still needs to be approved by California lawmakers.
EGP News reports that Boyle Heights residents call Brown’s plan only the beginning. One Boyle Heights resident tells the news outlet that although his house has been found to have unsafe levels of lead contamination, his property has not yet been cleaned.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solís –whose district includes the affected Eastside communities–watched crews in Commerce conduct contamination testing this week. The three hour process covers 40 homes a day and they’ll be out there for two weeks, according to KPCC.
— Hilda Solis (@HildaSolis) February 29, 2016
A total of 572 properties have been tested and 198 cleaned. The State intends to hit Exide with the bill for cleaning and testing at a later time..