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The absence of Comprehensive Immigration reform at the national level, along with a lack of federal enforcement of labor, environmental, criminal and civil rights laws at the national and state level in the last decade has produced deplorable living and working conditions for California’s Farm Workers and their families.
California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control , regarding Western Environmental Inc. a Utah-based soil recycling company that leases land from the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, acknowledged it had failed for at least seven years to stop hazardous waste from being shipped to the plant and vowed to make improvements over how it monitors the area. In 2009-10, 10,000 shipments most of it dirt contaminated with oil, gasoline and other hydrocarbons that emit fumes, were trucked to the plant along with sewage sludge, pesticides and other chemicals. In June 2011, the U.S. EPA finally ordered the company to stop receiving hazardous waste.
In the midst of these toxic waste dumps are Riverside County’s 121 unpermitted parks and a few dozen legal ones, as well as, 5 major parks and more than 100 smaller parks on the Torres-Martinez land that is outside the reach of county inspectors.
The Farm Labor Housing Protection Act allowed growers to build parks of up to 12 units without obtaining zoning and land use permits. Unscrupulous landlords have erected an estimated 400 unpermitted parks, still known as “polancos” that skirt basic health and safety regulations, including the placement of wells, septic systems and safe electrical wiring. The result is Duroville, a postcard of government neglect and corporate irresponsibility. In 2011, the Governor signed SB244 authored by Lois Wolk that mandates that local governments incorporate into their general plans disadvantaged unincorporated communities like Duroville.
California NOW believes legislation should be introduced that acts to ensure the California Department of Toxic Substances Control adequately monitors and enforces the state’s environmental laws.
We also strongly support passage of the Safe Cosmetics Act to ensure that women are protected from harmful items contained in the products they use on a daily basis.
It is also imperative that we pass the Aqua Act to ensure every community within our state has access to clean drinking water and that labeling of genetically engineered food (GMOs) are properly labeled so that parents know exactly what they are feeding their families.