Governor Explains Plan to Consolidate Cleanup of Toxics

Times Sacramento Bureau Chief

Gov. George Deukmejian spelled out in detail Tuesday his plans for a new department of waste management to consolidate the state's efforts at toxic cleanup, which he said will include trying to develop new technology for disposing of hazardous waste.

"The way we dispose of our waste is not much different from the way it was done in the Stone Age," the governor said in a speech to an Associated Press News Executives Council dinner. "We dump it and we bury it.

"Unfortunately, we're running out of space, and as we have learned painfully over the last few years in the case of toxics, we are also threatening the safety of our drinking water and damaging the quality of our environment."

Deukmejian, taking the initiative on what is widely expected to be the key environmental issue of next year's elections, disclosed his intention to create the new department in his State of the State Address to the Legislature last month. But Tuesday's speech was the first time he has talked at length about his reason for proposing it.

'Must Be a Good Reason'

"I think all of you know that when this governor proposes a new government agency, there must be a good reason for it," the Republican chief executive told his dinner audience.

" . . . More than 20 state agencies now play a role in waste control and research, responsibilities given to them by the Legislature. Many of these agencies have duties which overlap. This has led to duplication of permitting and regulation, inefficient use of available funds, interagency discord over goals and priorities and a scattershot approach to research and technological development.

"Our proposed department of waste management will end this inefficient use of precious resources. It will consolidate in a single governmental entity responsibility for the disposal of all waste, including hazardous toxics."

Among its goals, he said, will be to facilitate the cleanup of the state's unsafe toxic dump sites, toughen enforcement of anti-pollution laws now on the books and "encourage the development of the safe and affordable technology we must have to get these poisons away from our children--permanently."

Although Deukmejian included no money for the new department in his 1985-86 budget, aides said funds from existing toxic and waste disposal programs will be redirected once the reorganization plans are approved by the Commission on State Government Organization and Economy (the Little Hoover Commission) and the Legislature.

The governor said he hopes to submit final plans for the department to the commission by mid-March.

"In many respects, we already know the directions in which our exploration will take us, hopefully to safer and more efficient methods of incineration, recycling and waste-to-energy processes, to name a few," he said. "What we need now is a shared commitment among public officials, levels of government, scientists, businesses, environmentalists, media and the public.

" . . . I have to believe that the society that landed men on the moon, conquered hundreds of killer diseases and which feeds much of the world can surely find a better way to dispose of its own garbage and protect the health of its citizens."

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