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Tesla "Not Rushing Into Anything" as They Decide on Venue for Electric Car Plant
Tesla Motors' VP of Communications Ricardo Reyes assured activists from the California Coalition for Workers Memorial Day that Tesla "wants to make an informed decision as we grow the company" and will not rush to a decision on a location for an auto assembly plant. The activists are questioning the use of Department of Energy Funds for Tesla to build a green assembly plant on a toxic site in Downey, California. They visited Tesla's headquarters in San Carlos, California today.
Injured worker Steve Basile says he likes what Tesla does. "Making electric cars, that will help the environment. You are doing the right thing," he told Tesla's VP of Communications Ricardo Reyes today. Steve was accompanied by members of the California Coalition for Workers Memorial Day when he visited Tesla Motors headquarters this afternoon. Together they delivered a message to the electric car manufactuer: Don't build in Downey, California.
Dozens of film production workers have reported illnesses they believe they contracted at Downey Studios, which occupies the site of a former NASA plant near Los Angeles that produced spacecraft for the Apollo moon missions. Attempts to cleanup toxic residue left by years of research on nuclear power and rocket propulsion may have failed; prop makers and other film production workers say they developed severe respiratory and other problems while working there. Some, like Steve Basile, developed life threatening illnesses.
Steve Zeltzer of the California Coalition for Workers Memorial Day said that Tesla previously announced plans to possibly build an auto assembly plant at the Downey toxic dump site despite knowing that injured workers continue to get ill and sick from the contamination on the site. He joined former Downey worker Steve Basile and several other members of the injured workers coalition in expressing concern that Tesla, which is non-union, may yet be planning to build an “green” electric car assembly plant at the toxic site with a US government DOE energy efficiency loan of $465 million. The Department of Energy announced last June that Tesla will get the loan to build a manufacturing plant for the new ultra-fast Model S sedan and a second battery plant. The federal fund is designed to help the U.S. be competitive in battery technology so as not to lose that business to China, Korea, and Japan.
Sandi Trend, speaking at a press conference in San Carlos after the group's visit explained why she is a member of the Workers Memorial Day Coaltion saying, "The corruption has to stop, from the bad employer who has no conscience to an unjust workers compensation system."
Steve Basile suffers from a myriad of symptoms he and his family say are related to his exposure working at the Downey site as a prop maker for Downey Studios. Many of his co-workers were similarly affected. He says that with not much time to live, he speaks out for other workers who will come after him, and asked Tesla to not risk exposing their employees to the same fate he has suffered.
At left, Sandi Trend, mother of an injured worker. Center, Dina Padilla, worker rights activist.