East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice info@eycej.org 323.263.2113

Policy Advocacy Workshop Series Begins!

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The Policy Advocacy workshops focus on the legislative process, government agencies with an environmental scope, and different strategies to change policy. The workshop series consists of two workshops for each location.

Session 1
The Political Landscape
Learn how policymakers and governmental agencies impact your community’s health and quality of life. The focus is on air pollution, transportation & health.

Session 2
Speak Up & Take Action
Learn about what EYCEJ members and others are doing to promote healthy policies in the community. Find out how you can be involved in making your community a healthy place to live, work, and play.

Take part of our workshop series at any of the following locations:

Springdale West Apartments (Long Beach)
2095 West Spring Street Long Beach, CA 90810
Tues, April 8 & 15, 11 AM – 1 PM

Union Pacific (East L.A. at the YWCA)
4315 Union Pacific Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90023
Monday, April 14 & April 21, 12:30 – 2:30 PM

Commerce (EYCEJ Community Room)
2317 S. Atlantic Blvd, Commerce, CA 90040
Thurs. May 8 &  15, 6 – 8 PM

Note: More workshops will be listed in the coming days. 

For more details and/or to RSVP for a workshop series, please e-mail info@eycej.org or call the EYCEJ office at 323.263.2113.


710 FWY Expansion Project
One of the main reasons why EYCEJ was started was due to the plan brought forth by Gateway Cities Council of Governments, METRO & CalTrans to expand the capacity of the I-710 FWY by nearly 3-times due to projections of free-trade increase.
Read More…

The proposed BNSF Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) railyard threatens the health, safety, and quality of life of local residents, students, and workers. BNSF Railway, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is planning to construct a huge new yard, about 4 miles from the Ports covering sections of Long Beach, Wilmington, and Carson and neighboring residential communities, schools, day care centers, senior centers, and churches. Along with the proposed expansion for the existing Union Pacific Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (UP ICTF), the cumulative impacts from the 3 million containers a year coming to these neighborhoods can be detrimental to the local communities.
Read More…

Green Zones
Cumulative impacts from environmental pollution weigh heavily on environmental justice communities. Such impacts represent the reality of living in over-burdened areas where socio-economic, environmental and health factors combine to create deleterious effects on the most vulnerable populations.
Read More…

Exide Technologies – Shut it Down!


Exide Technologies, one of the world’s leading makers and recyclers of lead-acid batteries, was ordered by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) in 2013 to test soil at 39 residential homes and two schools surrounding the battery plant. The results now show that there are no high levels of arsenic, but high levels of lead have been found in the soil samples of all 39 homes and one preschool: Salazar Park Head Start. Further testing is now required at all sites and DTSC will create a plan of action, if necessary, to deal with lead contamination.

Exide, Vernon, California:

The Exide facility in Vernon, California is one of two secondary lead smelting facilities in California, which recovers lead from recycled automotive batteries. Exide recycles 23,000 to 41,000 batteries daily and has an average production of 100,000 to 120,000 tons of lead per year. This is equivalent to recycling approximately 11 million car batteries, which is about the same number of used batteries generated in California annually.

Exide Technologies is under critical scrutiny as it has repeatedly violated health and safety standards, releasing harmful emissions and contaminating the local environment. While the results from the soil test do not show abnormal levels of arsenic, in March of 2013 the South Coast Air Quality Management District released a health study showing that arsenic emissions from the plant poses an increased cancer risk to 110,000 residents from Boyle Heights to Maywood. A Health Risk Assessment by Exide during March of 2013 indicated that the facility poses a maximum individual cancer risk for an offsite worker receptor about 300 feet northeast of the facility; and air regulators also asserted that the facility poses a maximum chronic hazard for the respiratory system of the same offsite worker receptor.

The lead found in the soil test is especially dangerous for children and pregnant women, as it is a powerful neurotoxin that can damage health and result in potential learning disabilities for children, like the preschool children that attend Salazar Park Head Start. Exide has been operating with an interim hazardous waste facility permit since 1981, meaning that it has not acquired a full operating permit for decades.

On January 14, 2014, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice went to Sacramento for a hearing held by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to stand against the lack of regulation that allows for polluting companies to damage local communities, and to advocate for two pieces of legislation: SB 712 and SB 812. Senate Bill 712 by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach) is a bill that will require all hazardous waste facilities operating under an interim permit to either be approved by DTSC for a final permit by July 1, 2015, or have their interim permit revoked. Senate Bill 812 by Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) is a bill that would require facilities handling hazardous waste to request a permit renewal from DTSC at least 2 years prior to the expiration date of the permit. Through these two bills, East Yard hopes to hold polluting companies accountable to the health of the communities they operate next to, and make sure the 29 polluting companies operating under an expired permit do not continue to pose a threat to community members.

[UPDATE] – December 1, 2014

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In early November of this year Exide Technologies struck a deal with Department of Toxic Substances Control and California regulators to pay almost $49 million towards cleanup, closure, penalties, and costs. Under this order, Exide Technologies must set up a $9 million trust fund for cleanup of up to 215 homes in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles and Maywood, which will be collected over the next 3 years, and has been fined $526,000 in penalties for mishandling hazardous waste. Exide has also been ordered to secure $38.6 million in financial assurances, which will be collected over the next 10 years with the intent of the funds to be used for cleanup if Exide ever shuts down. Under this agreement, additional testing of homes outside of the current assessment area wouldn’t happen until after 2017. Exide Technologies has been closed as of Mid-march this year because of its failure to meet regulatory requirements.


Senate Bill 712 by Senator Ricardo Lara was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown, which now requires that hazardous waste facilities operating an interim permit either be approved by DTSC for a final permit or shut down operations. Senate Bill 812 by Kevin De Leon was not signed into law and it would have required facilities handling hazardous waste to request a permit renewal from DTSC at least 2 years prior to the expiration date of the permit.


On November 12, 2014 EYCEJ joined community members, community-based organizations, and the Office of Supervisor Gloria Molina in a press conference to hold Exide Technologies legally accountable for the damage to our communities. The press conference was to directly address the deal struck between Exide Technologies, the Department of Toxic Substances Control, and state regulators.

“Exide has poisoned us for years. DTSC has failed us for years.  We can’t trust Exide and DTSC to strike up a deal that will do right by us.  DTSC has been irresponsible on the ground in our community.  We have been kept uninformed and communication has been inconsistent.  The agreement Exide and DTSC have made is not in the best interest of the community.  The community needs to be well informed and an active participant in resolving the issues.

We demand sufficient testing be completed to understand the full extent of the impacts of Exide’s reckless actions. We demand adequate clean up be completed immediately, regardless of any funding scheme! We DEMAND Exide be permanently shut down!” – Mark Lopez, Executive Director, EYCEJ.

The County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors is currently researching legal actions against Exide Technologies in order to protect the health and safety of the community.

Below are links to the sources used for this blog:

November 13, 2014
La Opinión
Piden Acción Legal Contra Planta Reciclado de Exide

November 12, 2014
CBS Los Angeles
LA County Official Blasts ‘Secret’ Deal over Battery Recycling Plant

November 6, 2014
KPCC – Southern California Public Radio
State Regulators Make Tough Demands – Exide Technologies

March 10, 2014
Los Angeles Times
High lead levels in soil near battery plant prompt health warnings

January 7, 2014
Senator Ricardo Lara’s Office
Lara Bill Responds to Hazardous Waste Threats in Southeast LA County

January 15, 2014
Los Angeles Times
State toxics department seeks $4.5 million increase in funding

January 10, 2014
Los Angeles Times
Air quality officials OK strict new rules for battery plant emissions

January 9, 2014
Los Angeles Times
Exide recycling plant exceeds lead limits again, officials say

New Study Examines Race and Income Near California’s 18 Major Railyards

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This past Monday, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health released a first-of-its kind study entitled, “Global Trade, Local Impacts: Lessons from California on Health Impacts and Environmental Justice Concerns for Residents Living near Freight Rail Yards,” which assesses issues of race and income near California’s 18 major rail yards.

The study describes the cancer risk for residents living in close proximity to rail yards. This risk is increased due to the toxic emissions of diesel particulate from locomotives, trucks and equipment used to operate a rail yard. The study also examines the demographics (income, race/ethnicity) of populations living in the highest estimated cancer risk zones near the 18 major rail yards in California; and suggests policy efforts that might provide more public health protection, which can result in more “environmentally just” siting of rail yards.

The article concludes that diesel pollution from rail yards, which creates significant diesel cancer risks for those living near the facilities, is an often overlooked public health issue, which continues to create health disparities and environmental justice issue in the United States.

KCET Departures: I-710 Corridor


Image Source: KCET Departures
Image Source: KCET Departures

KCET Departures has begun a series of stories that focus on the I-710 Freeway and its impact on the nation, both economically and culturally. The first story covers the history of the Ports of LA and Long Beach. Writer Gilbert Estrada shares the history of the twin ports, as they are often referred, and their impact on the surrounding communities and corridors. He writes:

Although the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach are the economic one-two punch for the region, it comes at a great cost. The ports are part of the region’s mobile sources that account for 94% of our ambient carcinogenic risk. The dual ports are the single largest fixed source of air pollution in the entire L.A. basin, and before recent improvements (after years of community uproar), they emitted as much diesel exhaust as 16,000 trucks running for 24-hours straight.

Even with the successes in regulating port operations, the health impacts on the surrounding communities continue to be detrimental. Estrada further discusses the growing operations at the Port and the need to build infrastructure for transporting goods and products from the Port to the rest of the nation; and, in the second story, Estrada discusses the construction of the I-710 Freeway:

 …[T]he freeway was constructed to serve business generated by the harbor and local industry; commuter vehicular traffic was secondary, at best. Any negative impact to communities during or after the construction of the freeway was seen as all but non-existent.

Estrada shares Bob Eula’s story, an East Yard member and lifelong resident of the City of Commerce. Bob saw the construction of the I-710 freeway happen and saw how it changed the community he knew so well.

Join the discussion!

As part of the series, KCET asks the question: How would you improve the 710 Corridor? For those that know about the 710 Corridor Project, this is a discussion that many community members, elected officials and organizations along the 710 corridor have been involved in for many years. We encourage you to join the conversation, visit the KCET website and share what you envision for this project!

Below are links to the first two stories:
1. Brief History of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach 
2. The 710 Long Beach Freeway: A History of America’s Most Important Freeway

Angelo Logan Reflects on Executive Order 12898

(Vernice Miller- Travis, Charles Lee, Rita Harris, Angelo Logan and Richard Moore)
Angelo Logan joins longtime Environmental Justice leaders at the NEJAC 20 year anniversary of the Presidential Executive Order 12898- addressing Environmental Justice.

Twenty years have passed since President Clinton signed an executive order meant to address environmental injustice in communities of color…yet our communities continue to struggle. I say this with respect and gratitude for people like Rita Harris, Vernice Miller-Travis, Richard Moore, Charles Lee and many others who have paved the way for environmental justice (EJ) work and helped get Executive Order 12898 signed.  Today, I had the honor of participating on the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) panel, which included a group of strong EJ leaders discussing the Executive Order and the past and future of EJ work. I heard many of my colleagues express similar thoughts. Inspiring words were spoken during the panel discussion, such as, “remember where we come from,” “keep up the struggle,” and “together we can create the visions we need”. In short the message was: we have come a long way but we have an even longer way to go.

Most people in our communities do not know about the Executive Order, and don’t depend on it for environmental protection. Our communities depend on each other, on community organizing, to build power and fend off the continuous toxic assaults on our communities.  Nonetheless, the Executive Order and the creation of NEJAC have helped foster a movement for environmental health and justice. The value of the Executive Order and NEJAC, in my opinion, is the convergence of EJ allies from North to South and East to West. There is great value in the discussions and partnerships that arise among EJ advocates in the hallways of meetings, summits, and panels such as this one. The sense that “together we can create the vision we need”, that we are not alone in this struggle, and that our allies can act as mentors, helps reenergize us to continue the fight for environmental justice. Today, I celebrate the EJ movement and hope the Order can continue to help foster this collaboration.

Although the future of EJ work will continue to be a struggle, I look forward to many more years, fighting for Environmental Justice with our brothers and sisters.

East Yard Youth Advocate for Bicycle Infrastructure

IMG_0917In the rain and on the road, East Yard youth members rode their bikes for 16+ miles in order to be part of the decision-making process for a project happening in their community: the I-710 Corridor Project.

The I-710 Corridor Project is the largest infrastructure project in the nation. Currently, there are up to 260,000 cars and over 40,000 diesel trucks traveling on the I-710 daily. Members of Youth in Action met at Bell Gardens High School and rode along the LA River trail to Progress Park in Paramount, where the first I-710 Project Committee (PC) meeting of the year was being held.

Bikes are the primary form of transportation for many youth living along the corridor, yet a lack of bike paths makes it a difficult experience. East Yard youth attended the PC meeting in order to advocate for the community benefits of the Community Alternative 7, which include improvements to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructures along the I-710 Corridor.

At the meeting, the youth spoke to the PC about the need to make the I-710 freeway safer and healthier for the people using it for transportation as well as for the communities living alongside it. The youth mentioned that expanding the freeway would mean more traffic, which would negatively impact the local air quality. An expansion would also mean displacing families living alongside the freeway.

Metro presented the PC members with changes to the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), including the reintroduction of Alternative 5C and an updated Traffic Analysis. PC members expressed that a Zero Emission Freight Corridor needs to be included in order to get us closer to meeting the Diesel Particulate Matter and NOx federal standards.

East Yard Youth plan on riding their bikes to the next Project Committee (PC) meeting, which has not been scheduled. For more information about upcoming meetings regarding the I-710 Corridor project, please visit: http://www.metro.net/projects/i-710-corridor-project/

City of Commerce – Scoping Meetings for Retail Center

The City of Commerce is conducting two scoping meetings to obtain input from local residents and businesses regarding the proposed Commerce Retail Center Project which will be located at the southwest corner of Atlantic Blvd. and Washington Blvd.

On Thursday of last week, the City of Commerce held one of two Scoping Meetings regarding the proposed retail project. Over 60 community members were present to ask questions and raise concerns about the proposed project. The proposal includes spaces for restaurants and retail stores. (Take a look at the blueprint here.)

The meeting began with a presentation from City of Commerce staff explaining the process in which this project would be developed. Once the presentation was over, community members were invited to ask questions and raise concerns about the project. As community members gave public comment, it was noticeable that the majority of residents were unified in their stance against the retail center project. The hot topic of the night was the potential of a Walmart being developed.

Residents felt that the retail center could potentially bring jobs to local residents but bringing a Walmart into Commerce would not be the answer to the community’s need for a full-service market, quality jobs, nor improve the overall quality of life of the community. Concerns raised were based on Walmart’s reputation of not paying a living wage and not offering benefits to its employees. Many commented on the potential increase of criminal activity and its impacts on the local police department.  Having a giant retailer would also increase truck and car traffic on Washington Blvd, which would impact the quality of life and air for local residents.

Some residents left the meeting feeling unsure whether or not their concerns would be taken into account in the final decision. In order to ensure that community members are included in the decision-making process, EYCEJ and its members will again participate in the next scoping meeting.

The next Scoping Meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, at the Commerce Senior Citizens Center. The meeting is set to begin at 6 PM.

Goods Movement 101 Workshop Series Begins!

Flyer - Goods 101

What is Goods Movement?

Goods Movement refers to the system of industries working to move goods and products from where they are made to where they are sold. Learn how this diesel-fueled system of trucks, trains, freeways, rail yards and warehouses impacts your health. Get updates on current local and regional campaigns concerning goods movement, and find out how you can help improve your community’s quality of life.

Take part of our workshop series at any of the following locations:

Springdale West Apartments (Long Beach)
2095 West Spring Street Long Beach, CA 90810
Tues, Jan 21 & Jan 28 11 AM – 1 PM

Union Pacific (East L.A. at the YWCA)
4315 Union Pacific Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90023
Monday, Jan 27 & Feb 3 12:30 – 2:30 PM

Bell Gardens High School (Room 41)
6119 Agra St, Bell Gardens, CA 90201
Weds. Jan 29 & Feb 5, 4 – 6 PM

Commerce (EYCEJ Community Room)
2317 S. Atlantic Blvd, Commerce, CA 90040
Thurs. Feb 20 & Feb 27, 6 – 8 PM

California State University, Long Beach (Building: Liberal Arts [LA] 1, room 204)
1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA, 90840
Wednesday, March 5 & 12, 5-7 PM

Villages at Cabrillo (in the social hall)
2001 River Ave., Long Beach, CA, 90810
Thursdays, March 13 & 20, 6-8 PM

For more details or to RSVP for a workshop series, please e-mail Jacqueline Munguia (jmunguia@eycej.org) or call our office at 323.263.2113.

Electrification is Key to Improving Freight Transportation in California

Moving California ForwardThe California Cleaner Freight Coalition (CCFC) released a report today entitled, Moving California Forward, Zero and Low-Emissions Freight Pathways, which evaluates alternatives to conventional diesel vehicles for the purpose of freight transportation. One of the key findings in the report was that electric transportation technologies provide the greatest overall reduction of pollutants. The report indicates that regulating freight and improving air quality is possible through technologies that are either available today or can be commercialized with appropriate investments and support from policymakers. The CCFC has developed this report urging the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to implement long-term strategies for a sustainable freight plan sooner rather than later.

“It is critical that California has a clear plan to clean up our freight industry in 2014,” said Jesse Marquez, executive director of Californians for a Safe Environment.

The report findings also include:

  • Electric transportation technologies could eliminate tailpipe emissions in communities impacted by freight movement.
  • Moving goods by train and ship for regional trips could reduce emissions well beyond today’s cleanest diesel trucks.
  • Transporting containers double-stacked on railcars powered by the cleanest locomotives can reduce particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and greenhouse gas emissions by more than 75 percent.

The Coalition cautions that any shift in freight movement to rail or ship, while providing regional pollution benefits, would need to ensure reduction in emissions, exposure, and health risks to those communities close to rail yards, rail lines, ports and shipping lanes.

“The cost of cleaning up the trucking and freight industry in California is nothing compared to the lost lives, elevated cancer risk, chronic respiratory conditions and other costs Californians have shouldered for years,” said Margaret Gordon, co-director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project. “Low-income communities, in particular, are paying with their health to allow the freight industry to do business in California.”