Stater Brothers Will Add Alternative Fuel Trucks to Fleet as Part of Settlement With Attorney General And Environmentalists

Grocery chain will provide Proposition 65 warnings at Colton distribution center and add 39 alternative fuel trucks to its fleet.

LOS ANGELES (November 1, 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 Stater Brothers Markets emanating from lawsuits brought in 1998 under Proposition 65 and the Unfair Business Practices Act. Under the settlement, Stater Brothers will add 39 clean alternative fuel trucks to its fleet, reduce its diesel truck idling time, and provide warnings to workers and community residents around its distribution center at 21700 Barton Road in Colton, California that they are being exposed to diesel exhaust which is known to cause cancer.

The grocery chains will embark on a clean fuel demonstration project to demonstrate the feasibility of using natural gas "big rig" trucks in their fleets. This demonstration project, in combination with the 150 alternative fuel trucks that Vons, Lucky and Ralphs combined have committed to purchase under similar agreements, will constitute the largest alternative fuel projects of their kind in the country. Stater Brothers’ actions will reduce exposure of workers and local residents to diesel exhaust and its associated cancer risk.

The environmental groups recognized Stater Brothers for taking this important step to protect local communities and urged other California companies to take similar action.

"We commend Stater Brothers for taking this important action to protect communities in the Inland Empire by adding clean fuel trucks to their fleets," said NRDC senior attorney Gail Ruderman Feuer. "Now that California’s grocery chains are taking this major step toward clean fuels, it’s time for the rest of the nation to follow and take the clean fuel challenge."

"Diesel exhaust poses a serious public health threat to our communities," said Tim Carmichael, Executive Director of 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 Stater Brothers and take substantive steps to address this threat."

"This settlement furthers the efforts of environmental groups and California Attorney General Bill Lockyer to meet Californians' 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 more than 2500 community residents around Stater Brothers’ Colton distribution center which was 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 the distribution center found that levels of diesel exhaust in the local community required a health warning under Proposition 65. Because many people who reside around the distribution center speak Spanish as their primary language, the agreement requires that warnings be provided in English and Spanish.

As part of the agreement, Stater Brothers will convert all of its diesel "yard goats" (trucks used to move goods within the facilities) at its Colton distribution center to alternative fuel vehicles within two years. Additionally, Stater Brothers will purchase a total of 35 alternative fuel heavy duty "big rig" trucks over the next three years. The agreement further provides for an initial period where the alternative fuel trucks will be tested to insure that they will be able to perform their required functions for the grocery chain.

Stater Brothers will modify its trucks used throughout Southern California to reduce their idling time to under three minutes and post Proposition 65 notices warnings to their workers of their exposure to cancer-causing diesel. The agreement provides for further analysis of exposures community exposure to diesel exhaust at three other distribution centers owned by Stater Brothers to determine whether additional community warnings are required.