History

High-tech Production Lead to High-tech Pollution & Health Problems

svtc marchSVTC was formed in 1982 when groundwater contamination was discovered throughout Silicon Valley near high-tech manufacturing facilities. Though the industry seemed “clean,” toxic chemicals were being leaked out of underground storage tanks. More than 100,000 homes in San Jose were exposed to toxic solvents from a Fairchild computer chip factory. Workers in these facilities were also being exposed to hazardous chemicals on the job. And when hundreds of people inside and outside the factories began developing cancer, reproductive problems, and other illnesses, they banded together to fight back.

SVTC Helped Pass Legislation to Protect High-tech Communities

The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition was created and composed of high-tech workers, community members, law enforcement, emergency workers and environmentalists. The Coalition pushed for legislation that informed the community of the dangerous chemicals being used in the high-tech factories, and monitored contamination of the area. SVTC was successful in helping create the nation’s first legislation for the monitoring of underground chemical storage tanks. The bill was passed in Santa Clara County, CA, leading to similar bills in California State and then at the federal level.

SVTC Helped Move the EPA to Intervene to Clean Up High-tech Pollution

As Silicon Valley residents learned more about high-tech pollution, SVTC played a leading role in uniting communities to demand a cleanup. The Coalition helped move the Environmental Protection Agency to intervene and identify 29 Santa Clara County areas as Superfund sites needing immediate action for cleanup. This constitutes the largest concentration of Superfund sites in the nation. These sites were so contaminated that cleanup efforts still continue today. Unfortunately, many residents (primarily low income people of color) live, work and go to school near or right on top of these polluted areas, and the effects of long term exposure remains unknown.

SVTC Today Works Globally, Continuing to Monitor the Industry

Since its formation, SVTC has been working on research, advocacy and grassroots organizing to address the effects of the production, use and disposal of electronic products on human health and our environment. SVTC has played a leading role in holding the high-tech industry accountable and shifting it towards toxic-free, recyclable products, strong worker and community protections, and green technological innovations.