Toxic Wastes

We must adopt attitudes and practices that respect the rights of present and future generations to a healthy environment.
Toxic waste poisons the ecosystem rendering it unhealthy and often unlivable. Through pollution, toxic wastes and radioactive contamination, our society is seriously damaging our environment. Once toxic materials are released into the environment it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to contain or neutralize them.

Governmental standards including those of the US EPA, the Department of Toxic Substances California (DTSC), and local county and city agencies for the control of toxic substances are inadequate, poorly enforced, and allow for the export of known toxic substances to other countries as well as interstate and intrastate. Identification and clean-up of toxic sites, even critical Superfund sites, are severely inadequate.

The mission of DTSC is to protect California’s people and environment from harmful effects of toxic substances by restoring contaminated resources, enforcing hazardous waste laws, reducing hazardous waste generation, and encouraging the manufacture of chemically safer products. It has failed so far.

The Green Party promotes an aggressive policy to control and counter toxic substances:

• Develop, or bring back into common use, non-toxic alternatives to toxic substances.

• Contain and neutralize toxic substances at their point of use or generation. Once toxic substances are introduced into the environment, controlling them becomes difficult or impossible.

• Fine companies convicted of dumping toxic substances at a rate higher than it would have cost them to neutralize the poisons in the first place.

• Apply a standard of "dangerous until proven safe" to questionable substances, with the burden of proof on manufacturers and industrial users rather than on the public.

• Clean up toxic wastes on military and industrial sites. Companies hired to perform toxics clean-ups must not have previously profited from the production, supply or use of those substances. Companies that previously profited should be required to perform clean-up services at cost.

• Make companies that supplied the toxic substances at military sites pay at least 50% of the clean-up costs, with government funds from the military budget used for the balance.

• Shift as much as possible to plant-based diets to eliminate the devastating toxicity impacts from the enormous amounts of toxic wastes generated by animal agriculture.

• Set and enforce stringent standards through a revitalized EPA and Department of Toxic Substances. We must not let businesses influence or hinder regulatory agency work.

• Support "strict, joint and several liability" as enacted under Superfund legislation as the surest method of tapping the "deep pockets" of corporate polluters, and ensuring that responsible parties pay for hazardous waste cleanups. Liability reform must not become a shield protecting polluters' profits.

• Protect the right of everyone to a healthy environment regardless of race, income, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity. Poor, minority or immigrant communities should no longer be convenient locations for hazardous waste facilities, toxic substances dumping, and industrial facilities that use or generate toxic substances. These acts of toxic racism violate the principles of environmental justice. [see Environmental Justice plank -]

• Develop community-based systems to identify and organize "neighborhoods at risk," and to initiate actions to counter pollution.

• Educate our children and adults about toxic substances not only in school and university curricula but also in government agency publicity including websites and printed and other media.

• See the Zero Waste plank for suggestions on how to minimize toxic substances.

Revised May 19, 2019 at the San Francisco General Assembly