California toxic waste regulators are investigating complaints about a contractor hired to test homes for lead contamination near a closed battery recycler in Vernon, including accusations that its employees made racially derogatory remarks.
In a letter Thursday to Arcadis U.S. Inc., the Department of Toxic Substances Control said it was “recently made aware of allegations regarding Arcadis’ compliance with established soil sampling protocols” and concerns about its data collection in southeast Los Angeles County neighborhoods.
Chief Deputy Director Francesca Negri wrote that the department had also heard accusations that Arcadis staff made “insensitive or derogatory comments … some of which have been construed as racially charged” while sampling in the largely Latino neighborhoods around the plant.
Arcadis, which was awarded a $6.6-million state contract last year, is one of two contractors sampling homes for lead near the Exide Technologies recycling plant.
If substantiated, such allegations could create another headache for officials in charge of California’s largest cleanup of lead contamination.
State regulators have faced repeated criticism from community groups and lawmakers over the pace of cleanup, which spans an area of 10,000 homes across half a dozen communities polluted over decades by the now-closed recycling plant.
Read the whole story in the LA Times