Romic receives last hazardous waste shipment
Original post made on Aug 4, 2007
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 3, 2007, 4:18 PM
on Aug 4, 2007 at 5:05 pm
It seems like a miracle, but the catalysts were firmly on the ground.
An un-renewed permit since 1991, serious injuries to workers, toxic releases, and dozens of violations of state regulations formed the core of the Romic East Palo Alto legacy into mid-decade.
At that point, lip service to community responsibility was overshadowed by hubris in Romic's attempt to seek approval for a dramatically expanded hazardous waste treatment facility.
Additional violations, accidents, and toxic releases followed, leading to a desist order from a new, forceful head at the state's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).
The tide was finally turning. Long-standing community messages were reinforced. Press coverage revived. Corporate enablers, watching the tides and hiding behind anonymity, shifted at least some of their hazardous waste needs to other sources.
Yet the Romic facade continued with their president's confidence in a right to appeal coupled with unsubstantiated claims of improvements. Three weeks later, he and three VPs bailed out just before their New York private-equity-firm owners, Three Cities Research Inc., pulled the plug and sold the company to Romic competitor, Clean Harbors Environmental Services.
Whether from enlightened self-interest, an eye to powerful PR and/or a higher calling, Clean Harbors justly enters the final act of this saga as savior. While expanding its operations through acquisition of seven Romic service centers, the problem-ridden facilities in East Palo Alto and the Gila River Reservation are not included. This leaves to today's Romic the job of cleanup and closure of its East Palo Alto asset. Once completed, hopefully Three Cities will sell it to a more enlightened owner.
But while kudos of the moment fall upon Clean Harbors, the more important, lifetime achievement awards go to those who created the environment that enabled this profound change. In very large measure, they are the young people in East Palo Alto and their umbrella groups, such as Youth United in Community Action (YUCA), who led the long-term grass-roots efforts that slowly but persistently tipped the heavy scales.
From community organizing, educating, and demonstrating; speaking in neighboring towns; responding to California Environmental Impact and DTSC Reports, to filing an Environmental Protection Agency civil rights complaint, there is much to be admired and learned from in this success story.
I hope we will hear more about the key players and their efforts, both first hand and via press coverage.
But in the meantime, let all who participated in, supported, and/or will benefit from "this good fight," begin with a simple refrain, "Hallelu!"
on Aug 4, 2007 at 5:23 pm
One more reason for business to move to Nevada or China.
on Aug 5, 2007 at 8:21 am
How many East Palo Altans are about to lose their jobs?