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Bradley Urges Voters to Come Down on Polluters

Times Staff Writer

With a contaminated water well as a backdrop, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley urged Californians Thursday to approve Proposition 65, the anti-toxics measure on the November ballot, saying that it would warn polluters that “this must end.”

“We’re going to stop the various industries, various large companies, that are putting those toxic chemicals out into our drinking water throughout the state of California,” declared Bradley, the Democratic nominee for governor.

Bradley was joined at a North Hollywood press conference by Barry Groveman, one of the authors of Proposition 65. Groveman is a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who took a leave of absence from his job to write the initiative.

‘War on Pollution’

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“This is a war on pollution and the way we’re looking at it is we’re enlisting a private army,” Groveman said.

Proposition 65 was created and financed largely by supporters of Bradley, who hope that it is drawing attention to a favorite Bradley issue and helping him in his race against Republican Gov. George Deukmejian. The governor opposes the proposition.

Designed to prevent the release of cancer-causing chemicals into the state’s water supply, Proposition 65 would make it illegal to release into drinking water certain carcinogenic chemicals and any others that cause birth defects.

Financial penalties for violations would double to $100,000 and any dumping that results in bodily injury would be punishable by three years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for each day of the violation.

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Money Plowed Back

Money collected from such fines would be used to strengthen enforcement of anti-toxics laws.

Opponents of the initiative charge that it would harm small businesses and, in particular, farmers whose success is dependent on the use of pesticides and modern chemicals.

A Los Angeles Times Poll this month found that the initiative is immensely popular with voters. Sixty-eight percent of registered voters questioned favored Proposition 65, while only 16% opposed it.

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Despite the involvement of Bradley aides in framing the initiative, the mayor denied Thursday that politics played a role in the initiative’s placement on the November ballot.

Campaign Link Denied

“It had nothing to do with my campaign,” he said. “It has altogether (to do with) my concern about what is happening to the water supply, not just in this city, but throughout the state of California.”

Bradley noted that a state well-testing study released last year showed that 17% of large public water supplies contained measurable levels of harmful industrial and agricultural chemicals.

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Chemical contamination has forced the closure of more than 200 water wells in Los Angeles County in recent years, Bradley said. About 20 of them, including the one Bradley chose as his backdrop Thursday, are within the city of Los Angeles.

Bradley said the Department of Water and Power pays $10 million to $15 million a year to buy water to replace supplies formerly pumped from the wells and to clean up less-contaminated wells.

DWP’s Figures

But a DWP official said Thursday that the replacement cost is actually $2 million to $3 million and would rise to the figure Bradley cited only if all of the wells in the San Fernando Valley were closed by contamination.

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Deukmejian, meanwhile, repeated his charge that Bradley is “California’s biggest polluter,” criticizing the mayor’s management of the Los Angeles sewage system. Sewage spills into Santa Monica Bay have resulted in fines of $180,000 against the city, the governor noted.

“Mayor Bradley has polluted the coast and fouled our beaches,” Deukmejian told a fund-raising dinner in San Mateo. “If he can’t even manage a city sewer system and protect 45 miles of the California coast as mayor, how in the world is he going to protect 1,100 miles as governor?”


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