Feb 11, 2010

EPA Honors Palos Verdes Shelf Fish Contamination Education Collaborative

Team honored for innovative efforts to protect community health

In recognition of their efforts to help protect the health of community members, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honored the Palos Verdes Shelf Fish Contamination Education Collaborative Community Outreach Team with the agency’s 2009 Environmental Justice Achievement Award. The award recognizes the team’s successful efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of fish consumption near the Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund site, off the coast of Los Angeles.

The awards recognize partnerships for their distinguished accomplishments in addressing environmental justice issues, emphasizing collaborative work in communities disproportionately exposed to environmental and human health risks. Winning applications were reviewed and selected based on the six criteria, including innovation, public involvement and demonstrated results, by an independent, non-EPA review panel.

“EPA commends the Palos Verdes Shelf Fish Contamination Education Collaborative for its commitment and dedication to communities at the greatest risk--especially non-English speaking communities--affected by the Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund site,” said Keith Takata, Superfund Div. director for EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “This award recognizes this multi-stakeholder partnership for its success in addressing environmental justice issues impacting our community.”

The Palos Verdes Shelf Fish Contamination Education Collaborative Community Outreach Team partners honored included Boat People SOS, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, California Department of Fish and Game – Enforcement, City of Long Beach Environmental Health, Heal the Bay, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health; Orange County Health Care Agency, St. Anselm’s Cross-Cultural Community Center, Asian Youth Center, Cal-EPA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Herald Community Center and S. Groner Associates.

“EPA has stepped up its efforts to address environmental justice issues in communities of color, tribes and the poor,” said Charles Lee, director of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. “Efforts like this show how an educated community protects the health of its people.”

At the Palos Verdes Shelf, large deposits of DDT and PCBs sit in the sediments deep underwater off the coast of the Palos Verdes peninsula near Los Angeles, stretching from Point Fermin in the southeast to Palos Verdes Point in the northwest, a distance of about nine miles.

The chemicals came from area industries, including a large DDT manufacturing facility, which closed in 1982. The Palos Verdes Shelf Fish Contamination Education Collaborative identified “at risk” communities, including local fishermen and the Vietnamese and Chinese communities and educated them on the dangers of consuming contaminated fish, as well as ways to protect their health. The outreach focuses on not only getting the word out but also evaluating how people are using the information to protect their health.