The political and legislative battle over Santa Monica Bay's polluted waters has taken a new tack, with Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) challenging Gov. George Deukmejian to sign a package of five anti-pollution bills passed by the Legislature.
Hayden, who sponsored the bills aimed at cleaning up ocean pollution, issued the challenge last week after Deukmejian began broadcasting a radio campaign commercial questioning the role of his Democratic opponent, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, in the contamination of Santa Monica Bay.
In a letter to Deukmejian released at a press conference last week, Hayden contended that his legislation offers Deukmejian "a chance to protect the ocean and improve an ineffective regulatory process."
Deukmejian has not indicated whether he will sign the legislation, which is among more than 800 bills sent to him last week by the Legislature.
The measures would require state agencies to formulate a water quality plan for offshore waters, monitor the health risk of eating contaminated fish, notify anglers of health risks and publicly report toxic spills or face possible misdemeanor prosecution.
The governor's radio commercial contends that "a half-dozen toxic compounds known or suspected to cause cancer" are being dumped into Santa Monica Bay with Bradley's knowledge. The ad concludes: "Tom Bradley's running for governor, but if he cares so little about the purity of water in his own ack yard, how much would he care about California's environment?"
At last week's press conference, Hayden said he, too, has criticized Bradley and the city when they have been at fault. But he contended that the city has embarked on a new course and is upgrading its sewage treatment facilities.
"I have listened to your criticism of Mayor Bradley's management of Santa Monica Bay," he said.
. . . I now ask, where do you stand, governor, on the protection of Santa Monica Bay?"
In his letter to the governor, Hayden said the aim of the bills is to "upgrade the importance of the state's ocean plan, increase public awareness of dangerous contamination and make sure that bureaucrats never again minimize or cover up information affecting public health."
Kevin Brett, the governor's press secretary, said Deukmejian has not taken a position on Hayden's anti-pollution bills. Brett said "the radio spots address the management of the mayor . . . not legislation."
Kristy Flynn, Deukmejian's campaign press secretary, said the commercials were prepared "in response to the mayor's raising the issue of toxics." Bradley has questioned Deukmejian's handling of the cleanup of toxic wastes throughout the state.
As the head of a special Assembly task force, Hayden was involved in a yearlong study of contamination in Santa Monica Bay, which detailed widespread pollution.
The study prompted Hayden to introduce his legislative package early this year.
One measure, perhaps the key bill in the Hayden package, requires certain government employees to disclose to county supervisors and public health officials any toxic spills that could cause substantial injury to the public health or safety. Failure to do so would be a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and six months in county jail.
It sparked opposition from some cities and the state Department of Health Services. In a letter to Hayden, Alex R. Cunningham, chief deputy director of the Health Services Department, said his agency opposed the measure because the reporting provision "duplicates current requirements and still imposes sanctions which we believe are inappropriately severe."
Hayden's legislative package initially included a bill to set up a new marine pollution research facility.
Stalled in Committee
By a 45-28 vote, the Assembly passed the measure, which set aside $1 million in state offshore oil revenue funds for the facility. But the measure, along with dozens of other spending proposals, was bottled up in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
An aide to Sen. Dan Boatwright (D-Concord), the committee chairman, said the proposal did not have a high priority and the bill would have established a new program that would cost at least $1 million a year.
Hayden said he was disappointed by the failure of the bill and expects to revive the proposal next year.