2000 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 11:02:01 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: [CPEO-BIF] S.B. 324
The following defense of California S.B. 324 was submitted by George
Brewster of the California Center for Land Recycling -

SB 324 (Escutia):  FIVE MYTHS

Myth 1:	SB 324 takes away authority from state agencies, giving it to
local agencies.

Reality:	SB 324 adds cities and counties to a list of local agencies - a
list that already includes redevelopment agencies and local health or
environmental departments - that are allowed to order property owners to
investigate and cleanup their property.  Significantly, SB 324 does not
authorize any local agency to determine that a site has been
investigated or cleaned up to satisfactory levels.  Instead, SB 324
requires cities and counties to work with a state environmental
oversight agency - either Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)
or a Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), depending on the
property at issue - and requires that this state agency has the
exclusive authority to determine whether a property has been adequately
investigated and cleaned up.

Myth 2:	SB 324 reduces cleanup standards by adopting as Interim Index
Values the Preliminary Remediation Goals ("PRGs") adopted by the United
States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9.

Reality:	PRGs are established to be protective of human health and
safety at a one-in-a-million cancer risk level, using the same
scientific data about exposure pathways and risks that are currently
used by the US EPA, the Department of Toxic Substances Control ("DTSC"),
and other California agencies.  The California "Superfund" program
allows properties to be cleaned up to a level, which is between
one-in-a-million and 100-in-a million excess cancer cases; SB 324 uses
the most stringent of these cleanup standards at one-in-a-million. 
Proposition 65, which requires warning signs for exposing people to
chemicals that may cause cancer, uses a ten-in-a-million excess cancer
risk level; SB 324 is also more stringent than this Proposition 65

Furthermore, the US EPA reports that PRGs are appropriately used to
"screen pollutants in environmental media, trigger further
investigation, and provide an initial cleanup goal if applicable."  SB
324 uses PRGs to screen pollutants in soil, and require properties that
fail to meet these goals to do further investigation and cleanup in
conformance with remediation laws applicable to DTSC and the RWQCB.

Myth 3:	SB 324 reduces public participation in Brownfields reuse

Reality:	SB 324 adds four new opportunities for public participation in
such projects, by providing early and later public notice and comment
procedures for communities that use SB 324 to require Brownfields
cleanup, and by providing the public and interested community groups
with a meaningful role in both revising and reviewing Interim Index

Myth 4:	SB 324 eliminates joint and several liability for polluters and
would prevent the later cleanup of properties that were left "dirty"
after the SB 324 cleanup process was completed.

Reality:	SB 324 does not change in any way the joint and several
liability system for polluters.  It does provide innocent new purchasers
with protection from being required to do additional cleanup at a
property after a state environmental agency has concluded that the
property has already been cleaned up; such innocent purchasers are
already given this protection in site-specific negotiations with DTSC
and the RWQCB, and generally for properties within redevelopment areas
that are cleaned up under the "Polanco Act" legislation.  There is no
"immunity" for toxic tort or other claims, there is no "immunity" for
any new contamination that may be found or caused after the
state-approved cleanup has been completed.

Myth 5:	SB 324 would apply to grossly contaminated sites, which are too
complicated to rely on cleanup standards.

Reality:	SB 324 will address smaller, less complex properties that are,
or may be, contaminated, but it expressly does not apply to any complex
sites such as federal or state "Superfund" sites; active or former
military bases; hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal
facilities; or sites that have already resulted in enforcement actions
undertaken by DTSC or the RWQCB.


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 222B View St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/968-1126

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