Updated at 12:20 p.m.: Senator Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) is calling for the Department of Toxic Substances Control to test soil in a Wildomar neighborhood following concerns over toxicity there.
In a Feb. 22 letter addressed to DTSC Director Deborah O. Raphael, the senator, who represents the 36th District that includes Wildomar, asks the state agency leader to “take the necessary steps to rule out toxic chemicals as the cause of the illnesses and deaths. I also request a written response detailing your plan, with timelines, to address these issues.”
Anderson spokeswoman Jann Taber confirmed that the senator's office received a response from the DTSC on Tuesday. According to Taber, DTSC officials are drafting a written response to Anderson and it's expected the correspondence will arrive no later than Friday.
Anderson’s letter falls on the heels of a 68-page Consumer Watchdog report titled “Golden Wasteland” that cites case studies alleging the DTSC consistently failed to protect communities – including the Autumnwood development in Wildomar – from health harms posed by toxic waste.
Some Autumnwood residents but the state agency has maintained tests conducted by the Southern California Air Quality Management District show there is nothing to warrant DTSC testing. (Click here for more on the SCAQMD test results.)
but the Consumer Watchdog report alleges the agency has an obligation to test -- and it alleges the agency has $26 million in resources that aren’t being spent.
“Inaction is the hallmark of the DTSC,” Consumer Watchdog’s Liza Tucker said during a Feb. 21 conference call.
Tucker, who authored Golden Wasteland, accused the DTSC of sitting on its hands. “That’s what this agency is good at doing,” she said.
Last week, Senators Kevin de Leon (R-Los Angeles) and Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach) also issued a joint letter to Raphael calling for an investigation of the DTSC by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes.
Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, (D-San Leandro) also wrote Raphael asking for an immediate meeting to review DTSC’s enforcement practices.
The DTSC did respond to the Feb. 21 Consumer Watchdog report with a statement that signaled the agency is taking action, but it stopped short of making any promises to Wildomar residents.
In part, the statement read, “Earlier this year, we launched an external, independent review of our permitting program. This review is being conducted by California Personnel Services (CPS), a non-profit California agency that has done similar reviews for private companies, non-profit organizations and government agencies. CPS’s review will include the perspectives of a broad range of stakeholders including communities from across the state.
“We take seriously our role in protecting the health of Californians and our environment," the statement summarized. "We will not shy away from identifying areas for improvement and taking any necessary actions.”
Click here to read more of the statement.