Assembly Bill 1553 amended and will be considered by Legislature in 2022
(SACRAMENTO) – Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D – Long Beach) has amended AB 1553 to create the Southern Los Angeles Ocean Chemical Waste Community Oversight Council within the California Environment Protection Agency. The council would consist of statewide and regional stakeholders and experts who would be tasked with providing guidance to the state on mitigation of the chemical waste that was dumped decades ago in the San Pedro Basin off the Los Angeles County coast.
“All life depends on the health of our oceans. We must use all the tools available to fully understand the extent to which these chemicals pose an ongoing threat to the health of people and marine life in our coastal waters,” Assemblymember O’Donnell said. “This oversight council will not only help us get those answers but determine the best steps to mitigate the impact.”
The chemical dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) was widely used as a pesticide until the discovery of its many negative and lasting impacts on humans and animals. Despite being banned today in the United States, the past use and disposal of DDT and its byproducts continue to harm many ocean species to this day. In October of 2020, a Los Angeles Times story detailed how millions of barrels of hazardous waste from the production of DDT were dumped into the Pacific Ocean in the San Pedro Basin.
"The establishment of the Community Oversight Council on the dumping of DDT in the ocean is a critical and necessary step,” Katherine Pease, Ph.D. with Heal the Bay said. “The statewide council will increase transparency, include community members in decisions that impact public health, and begin to tackle the massive problem of toxic forever chemicals in our waters. Heal the Bay is proud to have worked on language with Assemblymember O’Donnell for this bill and we look forward to championing AB 1553."
“LA Waterkeeper is thrilled to support Assemblymember O’Donnell’s proposal to establish a Community Oversight Council to investigate the extent of chemical waste, particularly DDT, in the San Pedro Basin and the rest of the State’s oceans,” Benjamin Harris with LA Waterkeeper said. “A Community Oversight Council is a vital first step to educate stakeholders and members of the public about the extent of harmful contamination in the ocean, and to begin identifying recommendations to address this environmental and public health issue. LA Waterkeeper thanks Assemblymember O’Donnell for supporting the call for a Community Oversight Council, and we will push the Legislature to pass AB 1553.”
AB 1553 was amended on September 9 and has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials. The bill is expected to receive a hearing in early 2022.
Additionally, Assembly Joint Resolution 2 authored by Assemblymember O’Donnell passed the Assembly after already winning approval in the Senate. AJR 2 calls on Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help develop solutions to the dumping.
Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell represents the 70th Assembly District, which includes Long Beach, Signal Hill, San Pedro and Catalina Island.