Gail Ruderman Feuer or Tammy Boyer, NRDC: (323) 934-6900
LOS ANGELES (April 27, 2000) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Coalition for Clean Air and Environmental Law Foundation today announced a landmark settlement with three of California's largest grocery chains, Albertsons, Lucky Stores, Ralphs, Safeway and Vons emanating from lawsuits brought two years ago under Proposition 65 and the Unfair Business Practices Act. Under the settlement, the grocers will collectively add more than 150 clean alternative fuel trucks to their fleets, build alternative fuel refueling stations at three of their distribution centers, reduce their diesel truck idling time, and provide warnings to workers and community residents that they are being exposed to diesel exhaust which is known to cause cancer.
The grocery chains will embark on clean fuel demonstration projects to demonstrate the feasibility of using natural gas "big rig" trucks in their fleets. These demonstration projects will constitute the largest alternative fuel projects of their kind in the country. These actions by the grocery chains will reduce exposure of workers and local residents to diesel exhaust and its associated cancer risk.
The Attorney General and the environmental groups recognized the companies for taking this important step to protect local communities and urged other California companies to take similar action.
"We commend the grocery chains for taking this significant step to protect the health of our communities by adding clean fuel trucks to their fleets," said NRDC senior attorney Gail Ruderman Feuer. "It's time for companies across California to get off their diesel diet and switch to clean and safe alternative fuels."
"Diesel exhaust poses a serious public health threat to our communities," said Todd Campbell, policy associate at the Coalition for Clean Air. "As we continue to address the concerns raised by dozens of California neighborhoods, we hope that responsible businesses throughout California will follow the example set by these companies and take substantive steps to address this threat."
"This resolution will help provide Californians with their number one environmental priority: clean air for themselves and their children," said James Wheaton, President of the Environmental Law Foundation.
The companies will mail or deliver warnings in English and Spanish to tens of thousands of community residents around the five distribution centers which were the subject of the lawsuits, warning them of their exposure to diesel exhaust. California's Proposition 65 requires that warnings be provided to persons who are exposed to chemicals which are known to cause cancer unless the exposure poses "no significant risk" to those persons. In 1990, diesel exhaust was listed under Proposition 65 as a chemical known to the state to cause cancer.
The lawsuits were filed in 1998 after monitoring performed around four distribution centers found that levels of diesel exhaust in the local communities required a health warning under Proposition 65. Because many people who reside around the distribution centers speak Spanish as their primary language, the agreement requires that warnings be provided in English and Spanish. Based on subsequent monitoring, a fifth distribution center was included in the settlement.
As part of the agreement, five distribution centers owned by the grocery chains will convert their entire fleet of diesel "yard goats" (trucks used to move goods within the facilities) to alternative fuel vehicles within two years. Additionally, Vons will purchase a total of 60 alternative fuel heavy duty "big rig" trucks over the next three years and Ralphs and Albertsons committed to buy 25 alternative fuel "big rig" trucks each during the same period.
The three grocery chains also agreed to build alternative fuel refueling stations for their trucks at three of the distribution centers. The agreement will in total put more than 150 clean alternative fuel trucks in service over the next three years. The agreement further provides for an initial period where the alternative fuel trucks will be tested by each company to insure that they will be able to perform their required functions for the grocery chains.
At distribution centers across California, the grocery chains will modify their trucks to reduce their idling time to under three minutes and post Proposition 65 notices warning their workers of their exposure to cancer-causing diesel. Community warnings will not be required at most of the companies' other California distribution centers because the cancer risk from diesel exhaust was not found to be significant. However, there are seven distribution centers which will require additional analysis of community exposure to diesel exhaust.
Warnings will be provided to community residents around the following distribution centers:
Albertsons/Lucky stores, 6565 Knott Avenue, Buena Park, CA
Albertsons/Lucky stores, 1701 Marina Boulevard, San Leandro, CA
Ralphs Grocery Company, 4841 W. San Fernando Road, Los Angeles, CA
Safeway/Vons, 12801 Excelsior Street, Santa Fe Springs, CA
Safeway/Vons, 4300 Shirley Avenue, El Monte, CA
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 400,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The Coalition for Clean Air is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to restoring clean, healthy air to California through a combination of education and advocacy.
The Environmental Law Foundation's mission is to use environmental and other laws to achieve reduction of toxic exposures and disclosure to the public of the health hazards of such exposures, and to work with community groups to combine these legal strategies with public education and outreach. Visit ELF at http://www.envirolaw.org.