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U.S. EPA INVESTIGATES DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT

Release Date: 7/20/1995
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1588

    (San Francisco)--  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(U.S. EPA) will investigate portions of an administrative
discrimination complaint against the California Department of
Toxic Substances Control and the Imperial County Air Pollution
Control District.


     The decision stems from a complaint filed under Title VI of
the Civil Rights Act with U.S. EPA and the Department of Housing
and Urban Development last December by the California Rural Legal
Assistance Foundation on behalf of three California Latino
community groups against two private companies, six state
agencies, and three counties. Title VI prohibits discrimination
on the basis of race, color or national origin in programs or
activities receiving federal financial assistance.


     "Our decision to investigate the complaint does not mean
that the two parties have in fact engaged in discriminatory
practices," said Rodney Cash, Acting Associate Director of U.S.
EPA's Office of Civil Rights in Washington, DC. "At this point,
we are just beginning our investigation of the allegations."


     The complaint alleges ongoing discrimination in the siting,
permitting, expansion and operation of hazardous waste landfills
in Buttonwillow, Kettleman City and Westmoreland, all located
near low-income, Latino communities.  


     In deciding whether to investigate the allegations against
the two entities, the Office of Civil Rights reviewed the
complaint for the following information:

    *    an allegation of discrimination based on
         race, color or national origin;


     *    the program or activity which is the subject
         of the complaint receives federal financial
         assistance


     *    alleged discriminatory activity is described
         in detail; and,


                             (more)


                              -2-

     *    the alleged discrimination occurred within
         180 days of the filing of the complaint.


     The Department of Toxic Substances Control and the Imperial
County Air Pollution Control District have an opportunity to
respond in writing to the allegations within 30 days. After
reviewing the responses, the U.S. EPA will conduct any necessary
investigation.  


     U.S. EPA will not be investigating allegations of civil
rights violations against six other California entities named in
the original complaint because they don't meet the requirements
for review.  Laidlaw Inc. and Chemical Waste Management Inc. do
not receive U.S. EPA Assistance. The state Office of Permit
Assistance does not have the authority to address the issues
raised in the complaint.  U.S. EPA also found that allegations
against the Central Valley and Colorado River Basin Regional
Water Quality Control Boards and the San Joaquin Valley Air
Pollution on Control District were not timely.  


     HUD will be investigating the allegations against Kern,
Kings, and Imperial counties, the three counties also named in
the complaint.


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