Boeing Influence on DTSC and SSFL Cleanup Exposed in New Report

NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit catches DTSC Director Debbie Raphael meeting with Boeing lobbyist Peter Weiner

NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit catches DTSC Director Debbie Raphael meeting with Boeing lobbyist Peter Weiner

The Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition applauds a new report by the public interest group Consumer Watchdog that addresses DTSC’s failure to protect communities from toxic waste. Informed in part by whistleblowers within DTSC, the report’s findings include that the agency “suffers from a bias toward industry encouraged by a revolving door between regulators, lobbyists, and lawyers.”

Boeing’s influence on the cleanup of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory is included in pages 58-62 of the report entitled “Golden Wasteland”.

An excerpt reveals:

Many former environmental regulators work for companies involved in the hazardous waste business or who generate hazardous waste and want to resist regulation. Winston Hickox was the Secretary of the California EPA from 1999 to 2003. He works at the public affairs company California Strategies. One of its PR specialties is the shredder industry. His former Chief of Staff was Bob Hoffman, who served as Chief Counsel at the DTSC from 1994-1998, before joining CAL EPA. Sources say that Odette Madriago, who began as a staffer and worked her way up to chief deputy director of the DTSC, rose under Hoffman. “She is a creature of Hoffman,” said one long-time DTSC insider.

Hoffman now works in the real estate environmental practice of the Paul Hastings law firm together with Peter Weiner, who worked as assistant to Governor Jerry Brown for toxic substances control during Brown’s first administration. Weiner drafted more than 25 of the state’s basic environmental laws, according to his biography on the law firm’s site. Weiner notes in his biography that he specializes in obtaining and modifying permits, enforcement activities, and Environmental Impact Reports, including “successful defense in litigation.” The firm works in various capacities for major hazardous waste recycling and disposal facilities, hazardous waste transfer facilities, used oil recyclers, and metal shredders, as well as many others. It has worked on behalf of Phibro-Tech and S.A. Recycling.

Debbie Raphael and Boeing lobbyist Peter Weiner

Debbie Raphael and Boeing lobbyist Peter Weiner

Hickox, Hoffman, and Weiner are all Boeing lobbyists. Weiner was identified as a cause of concern in a 2000 investigation of DTSC by the non-profit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which stated that, “Several project managers told PEER that their projects are influenced by attorney Peter Weiner, who represents several hazardous waste generators as well as a number of Responsible Parties (RPs) involved in a variety of DTSC clean-up projects.”

It was therefore of great concern to many SSFL activists when Peter Weiner showed up to testify at DTSC director Raphael’s confirmation hearing in April 2012, stating that “I also as you know represent many private companies who have also found Ms. Raphael to be balanced, to be thorough, and to be just as open as she claims to be.”

NBC Bay Area and KNBC aired investigations on the findings of the Consumer Watchdog report. In one segment, Raphael said she would was too busy to meet with media, yet when reporter Vicky Nguyen tracked her down on the streets of Sacramento, Raphael is seen meeting up with none other than Peter Weiner himself (minute 5:19 of the video below.)

See video of NBC Bay Area investigation on DTSC’s failure to protect communities:

In response to the NBC and Consumer Watchdog reports, four state senators called for a senate investigation into DTSC. State Senator Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles) wrote Raphael on February 22, stating, “These allegations are extremely alarming and it is disturbing to see current employees feel compelled to mask their identity out of fear of retaliation for discussing DTSC’s enforcement practices.” Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach), Joel Anderson (R-San Diego), and Senate majority leader Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) have also demanded answers.

On March 5, 2013, Consumer Watchdog revealed that top DTSC employees Odette Madriago and Stuart Black have significant personal investment in companies that DTSC regulates and sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown calling for their termination. The Consumer Watchdog letter said that according to government 700 forms covering the years 2006-2012, Ms. Madriago invested as much as $100,000 each in Chevron, BP Amoco, and Abbott Laboratories, and up to one million dollars in General Electric. Mr. Black holds stock in Royal Dutch Shell, and has invested up to $100,000 in chemical company McKesson. He has also invested in GE.

The Consumer Watchdog letter also expressed concern about Peter Weiner. The organization has filed a PRA request to learn more about Raphael’s meeting with Weiner and “other dealings” and says that DTSC acknowledge the request, stating that the documentation “is voluminous.”

Watch video of NBC Bay Area’s follow up investigation on DTSC employees conflict of interest below:

The Southern California NBC affiliate KNBC also produced stories on DTSC after the release of the Consumer Watchdog report, and is expected to air follow up stories as well. See the KNBC videos below.

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