Senator Boxer’s Letter to EPA Calling for Action on Overpowering Odors in Mecca, CA
May 6, 2011
Pasted below is the text of the letter sent yesterday.
May 5, 2011
Honorable Lisa Jackson
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Administrator Jackson,
I am asking that you personally ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) takes immediate action to help the children and families in Mecca, California, who are living in unbearable conditions caused by the horrendous odors that have plagued this community.
Overpowering odors in Mecca have sickened scores of people, including students and teachers at Saul Martinez Elementary School. According to news reports, the smell is so strong that it has forced students to stay inside during recess. Hundreds of area residents have lodged complaints with state regulators and have attended town hall meetings with state and federal officials to voice their concerns and to ask for this problem to be addressed. I have attached to this letter some of the recent news reports for your review.
It is imperative that this serious problem be solved immediately. To that end, my staff has contacted state and federal officials to urge swift protective action for the residents of Mecca.
I understand that state officials have taken dozens of samples and have worked with at least one facility in the area to address certain waste handling practices.
My understanding from EPA regional officials is that an investigation is underway and that I can expect action in the very near future to address this serious problem. The EPA has broad authority under federal environmental laws, including section 7003 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which allows EPA to work rapidly with all parties to address threats to public health from dangerous pollution.
The EPA must take prompt action to protect the children and families in this community. Parents should not fear for their children's safety simply because they are breathing the air. I know that you share my belief in our important mission to protect our children.
Please let me know in detail what immediate steps EPA will be taking -- because this situation is intolerable. You can reach me through my Staff Director, Bettina Poirier, at the Environment and Public Works Committee.