Quirk Effort for Accurate and Humane Hazardous Waste Identification is Stalled with Veto

Saturday, October 12, 2019

SACRAMENTO – Hazardous waste must be disposed of properly to protect public health and the environment. However, today Governor Newsom vetoed AB 733, by Assemblymember Bill Quirk’s (D-Hayward), which would have enabled California to identify this waste using tests that are human and result in more accurate identification. . 

 

“As Chair of the Assembly Committee of Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, I work every day to protect Californians and California’s environment from toxic pollution. Making sure hazardous waste is accurately identified and disposed of is crucial. However, the test currently used in California to determine if a product is hazardous requires the use of animals. So, either a company tests the product and doesn’t have to treat it as hazardous, or it doesn’t do the test and is able to market the product as ‘cruelty free’ but then treat it as hazardous. This puts companies in a precarious situation,” explained Assemblymember Quirk.

 

The hazardous waste test, commonly known as the “minnow test” essentially involves adding waste to a fish tank and seeing if the fish die. Companies committed to cruelty-free practices forgo the test and play it safe by treating all their waste as hazardous. “This is costly to business and means that California may be treating more waste, than we should, as hazardous waste,” said Assemblymember Quirk.

 

AB 733 would have authorized the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to evaluate and adopt promising humane alternatives to the “minnow test.”

 

“California absolutely needs rigid regulations to identify hazardous products and chemicals that can harm humans and the environment, but the current aquatic toxicity test is archaic and overtly cruel. They choke fish with toxic waste,” says Social Compassion in Legislation founder and CEO Judie Mancuso. “We are extremely disappointed that Governor Newsom failed to open the door for California to begin using similar humane testing alternatives that are utilized around the world and end the needless torture of fish in our state.”

 

“By making humane hazardous waste tests available, AB 733 would have let company’s meet their customer’s demands regarding animal testing while protecting the environment and avoid the steep costs associated with hazardous waste disposal,” said Assemblymember Quirk. “As a scientist, I know that it’s important to look at evolving science and scientific procedures. Though disappointed with the outcome, I am proud that AB 733 brought together groups as diverse as Cal Chamber and Social Compassion in Legislation, and I will continue fighting for policies that fortify California’s environmental safety.”

 

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Elected in 2012, Bill Quirk brings his PhD in astrophysics and career as an educator and scientist to the State Assembly.  Assemblymember Quirk represents Ashland, Cherryland, Fairview, Fremont, Hayward, Castro Valley, San Lorenzo, Sunol and Union City. He is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials. He is a member of the Agriculture, Public Safety, Revenue and Taxation, and Utilities and Energy Committees. Website of Assemblymember Quirk: http://www.asmdc.org/quirk