The original article was publish on KPFK
There’s a new Latino environmental group.* The California Latino and Environmental Advocacy Network, or CLEAN, has formed to protect low-income communities from contaminated air and water. The budding group is meeting this evening to discuss the possibility of holding a fundraiser.* They’re focusing on developing tools to empower communities to fight against the polluters in their neighborhoods.
Following the scandal with Vernon-based Exide Technologies, a battery recycler that has allegedly contaminated 100,000 people through air and ground pollutants, Randy Jurado Ertll decided he had to do more.
After seeing ineffectual responses from government to Exide’s poisoning of the surrounding communities, Ertll realized that he needed to form a group aimed specifically at low-income Latino community.
EPA data shows that environmental pollution is more likely to occur in poorer communities.
And advocates for years during the Exide debacle said that the battery recycler was not just one bad apple. These neighborhoods are full of dirty businesses. And they need help.
Ertll and a group of community members formed the California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network, or CLEAN.
Ertll: “We felt that there’s a void of a Latino Environmental nonprofit, that’s actually founded and led by Latino community members. That’s how the CLEAN came about, Because there’s a need for it to exist.
For years, Ertll said he saw members of the community come down with ailments without realizing that Exide or other nearby polluters could be the cause.
Ertll: Many have gotten sick. They have asthma, they have cancer. I don’t think that they made the connection that it’s because of this factory that’s near their community.
Ertll said that the plant has been operating for 30 years on a temporary permit. After failing to meet the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s requirements, Exide Technologies temporarily closed their plant in March.
However, in a decision made last week by air quality official, Exide Technologies will reopen by the end of the year. Under new conditions, the plant must implement preventative measures to reduce arsenic emissions and keep-lead contaminated dust from being released during this process. But residents are still not satisfied.
Ertll says the goal of CLEAN is to bring about an awareness and education. By utilizing different resources, people will be able to know the source of the pollution.