Interview with Ted Smith, Founder of Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, Part Two

The Toxic Avengers

May 23 2023 • 1 hr 4 mins

In this episode, we have Part Two of my interview with Ted Smith, Founder and Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition.

We begin part two talking about the birth of Silicon Valley, the perception of tech as a “clean” industry, and the reality of workplace health risks.  We then talk about the beginnings of the Coalition, spurred by the discovery of toxic solvents leaking into the area’s groundwater from the Fairchild Semiconductor plant, and the early activism of Lorraine Ross, which ultimately led to the designation of 29 Superfund sites in Silicon Valley.

We discuss the role of firefighters, and the plumbers union, along with the Coalition, in developing local laws on the handling of hazardous materials, and public right to know of the storage of hazardous chemicals, which became models for state and federal laws.

We cover some of the history of the 1986 amendments to the Superfund law, including the role of the National Toxics Coalition, the creation of the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), and the importance of Technical Assistance Grants (TAGs) for citizens fighting for cleanups of contaminated waste sites in their communities.

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