We believe everyone deserves a healthy and safe community. Often low income communities of color are targeted for society’s most toxic industries and waste dumps. We believe policy changes that promote environmental justice will lead to healthier communities for everyone.
Who Do We Serve?
Our main constituents are the families living in, around and on top to the toxic chemicals in this community. We have a strong core group of community residents that have been able to read the highly technical documents and effectively participate in the investigations the EPA are currently conducting in the neighborhood. We will increase the capacity of this group with this project and creating a space for not only the community to be at the table but take a lead in which issues are addresses first based on community needs. Through our door to door outreach we are able to provide information, hear concerns and take messages to the agencies directly from the affected community. Our meetings are open to all community members and our posted on our websites.
We will all work together in a purposefully created “safe space” to collaborate and grapple with these tough issues. We will always work towards a consensus on action items and ways we can move forward bringing always our best skills to the table. The atmosphere we try to create is one of open mindedness and flexibility to try new ways of approaching these really serious clean up realities and understanding how we need each other to be successful in ensuring the best possible decisions are made.
Organizational Leadership and Community Involvement
DAAC was formed by community members in 1994 and our work is embedded in the community we primarily serve. Our director, until relocated by USEPA, lived in the area of the community where pure DDT was found in several backyards. This area of 67 homes was eventually bought out and open space was created after extensive remediation. Cynthia Medina, our assistant director, has lived in the community for over 35 years and has worked for DAAC for the last 17. We have a base of youth volunteers that have been very active in our outreach and education efforts. DAAC has remained the tip of the arrow for community advocacy as residents engage and disengage and engage again based on what their needs are and the capacity they have to be engaged. Our structure allows for the coming and going of individuals from the community and we keep with the pulse of the community through our door to door outreach and feedback at our core group meetings.
Our community is an environmental justice community located in the unincorporated Los Angeles County Strip. This planned WWII area community was initially used for workers and their families for the nearby factories. Among them the world’s largest producer of DDT and a synthetic rubber plant, now both federal superfund sites right in our community. Our community is multigenerational and live within the community, most often their whole lives. Spanish is the primary language for many living there and this has been a great disadvantage to understanding the very complexities of the widespread contamination and possible remedial solution’s since most of this technical information is provided in English only. Our population is 52% Hispanic, 32% Caucasian, 12% African American, 3% Asian and 1% Native American. We believe our work benefits the community as a whole and our work on the groundwater treatment will benefit the greater Los Angeles area. We believe communities are uniquely suited to lead the remedial efforts in their communities because their lives are directly impacted by the decisions made and this is what DAAC has been successful at accomplishing.
DAAC has a working board which is reflective of the community because a majority of its members come from the community which DAAC felt was important and has been incorporated into our bylaws. We are happy to report that our board chair, Florence Gharibian, and director have completed recently a two year board development course lead by the Annenberg Foundation. We absorbed a tremendous amount of great insights that are being applied to make our organization stronger. Our board includes community representatives and professionals with experience in the environmental field and the types of skills needed to effectively communicate to a wide sector what we have and wish to accomplish. DAAC has maintained a well-blended staff and board of directors.
Important Recent Accomplishments in Water Quality
We have achieved several recent accomplishments. We spearheaded the formation of a multi-agency and community stakeholder process, with a mission of preserving our precious groundwater resources prior to being contaminated by spreading plumes of toxins. Working with the Los Angeles Basin Groundwater Restoration collaborative we have achieve a much lower clean up level of 3 ppm for a chemical with little known toxicity data, pCBSA. We have successfully stopped the reinjection of this chemical at a much higher 25 ppm level into a portion of the areas aquifer that is currently not contaminated. This was accomplished by educating the community living on top of these contaminants who in turn lead the agencies in a process to ensure the risk uncertainties were a factor in protecting the health of residents in the area and our precious area groundwater resources needed by the greater Los Angeles area.
Our work over the past two years has made a difference in how our local, state and federal agencies work collaboratively with affected community members to not only protect clean groundwater but to work on a plan to holistically clean up current plumes of contamination with our ongoing activities, making us important watershed stewards.
The Del Amo Action Committee Board of Directors recently approved three goals for the coming year:
- Hold responsible parties accountable, by educating our political representatives and stakeholders through community lead forums.
- Influence remediation decisions, by engaging regulatory agencies and stakeholders through interactive educational experiences.
- Provide a structure for innovative thinking, built on partnerships and consensus building.
The Work Plan
This work will be accomplished through the following steps:
- To hold responsible parties accountable, through a series of briefings for political representatives and stakeholders on site cleanup issues. This will result in more effective remediation of the pollution created by Montrose Chemical – manufactured technical grade DDT and Del Amo – manufactured synthetic rubber during and after World War II. Both companies seriously polluted the air, water and land at their properties and on the properties where homes and businesses in the surrounding communities are located. They also caused the pollution of an immense area of the groundwater basin residents of Los Angeles will depend on drinking water.
We will facilitate stakeholder workshops bringing together community members and government and technical experts to focus on remediation goals for groundwater, soil and air.
- Monthly stakeholder briefings
- Three stakeholder workshops
- To influence remediation decisions, we will engage regulatory agencies on a monthly basis in order to increase opportunities to influence remediation decisions. We will sponsor at least two technology screening workshops for stakeholders that will allow us to focus on community acceptable state of the art technologies.
- Monthly roundtable discussions
- Two technology screening workshops
- To create a partnership structure for innovative thinking, we will build our core groups capacity to take the lead on identifying and bring together stakeholders to think innovatively about the best land uses based on contamination levels in our area. We will conduct door to door outreach to 450 homes twice a year to educate residents about area pollution impacts. We will hold monthly meetings with a core group of residents to ensure they remain a conduit to and for the community. We will organize quarterly meetings with partnership members to form the basis for an area specific land use plan.
- Identify and form stakeholder partnership
- Outreach to 450 homes bi-annually and hold monthly core group meetings
- Organize and facilitate quarterly partnership meetings
WE NEVER GIVE UP!
For more information please contact the Del Amo Action Committee. We would love to hear from you.
Phone: Cynthia Babich~ (310) 796-4813 En Espanol: Cynthia Medina~ (310) 561-5576