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Disposal of Hazardous Materials Causing Concern in California
California produces tons of hazardous material and has hundreds of hazardous waste and Superfund sites
California is known for its good weather and laid back way of life, but there is another side to the Golden State that few people know about: a growing hazardous waste problem. Silicon Valley near San Jose is where the computer industry grew up. The technology produced there has created an electronic boom, but also a flood of electronic waste. Where do all those old smart phones go when they get tossed aside for a new model? How about the batteries and their byproducts in all our electronic gadgets?
And that’s just the tech industry. California has a slew of chemical and aerospace companies along with military installations that produce hazardous material, too.
What kind of hazardous material is impacting communities in California?
What effects can these pollutants have on our health?
To pursue true environmental justice, the state of California must not only promise to keep its communities clean of hazardous wastes, but must also take full responsibility for the waste produced within its borders. To protect its residents, the California legislature, governors and agency officials have supported some of the toughest hazardous waste regulations in the country. The current practice of moving hazardous waste to states with less stringent rules and making it someone else’s problem violates this concept of environmental justice.
All people, no matter what state they live in, should be protected from the hazardous waste produced in California. It should be dealt with swiftly and effectively – in California.
Furthermore, California should make removing hazardous waste from polluted sites in communities, many of which are less advantaged, around the state a top priority. Leaving contamination in the ground because there is nowhere to take this hazardous waste should not be an option. California officials need to address this problem now.
California has adopted stringent rules for the disposal of hazardous waste material and there are three landfills in California that can correctly and safely dispose of this hazardous waste. However, as the Modesto Bee reported last year, the largest of these landfills is running out of space and, as a result, has had to slow down the amount of waste they take in. Hazardous waste produced in California is now being trucked to Nevada, Arizona and Utah, which have less stringent rules than California.
The notion of fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens doesn’t only apply to protecting underserved communities. It should also apply to moving waste out of state, washing our hands of it and making it someone else’s problem.
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