Oral Histories

Interview of Paula Wansa

Member of Concerned Neighbors in Action. Plaintiff in Stringfellow v. Concerned Neighbors in Action, an environmental case related to the Stringfellow Acid Pits in Jurupa Valley, California.
Environmental Activism in Los Angeles
Social Movements
Environmental Movement
Collings, Jane
Wansa, Paula
Persons Present:
Wansa and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Ayres's Suites Hotel in Diamond Bar, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records related to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, interviewer and senior editor, Center for Oral History Research. B.A., Communications, Antioch College; M.A., Communications, University of Iowa; Ph.D., Critical Studies, UCLA. Collings prepared for the interview by reading published news reports and articles about the Stringfellow Acid Pits, as well as reviewing documentation published by the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, of Glen Avon, California.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Wansa was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a few corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
1.5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The series documents environmental activism in the Los Angeles area from the 1970s through to the present day. The majority of interviews are with either founders or knowledgeable participants in major regional environmental organizations. Represented groups embody a wide range of issues, including conservation, restoration, environmental justice and toxic waste disposal.
Family background—First leans about the Stringfellow site—Ruth Kirkby—Lack of interest among townspeople in learning about Stringfellow site—More on Ruth Kirkby—Wansa becomes involved in Stringfellow struggle after the controlled release of waste from Stringfellow in 1978—Trouble selling the Wansa home due to well contamination from the Stringfellow site—Early efforts to sue the water district to provide water to homes with contaminated wells—The risk of an overflow of contaminated water at the elementary school—Reactions of parents to the danger—Health problems in he Wansa household—Lack of awareness in community about toxic chemicals—More on Ruth Kirkby—Lack of knowledge about the toxicity of the water that was allowed to overflow into the community—Wansa’s sense that the county was deliberately not cooperating with Concerned Neighbors in Action (CNA) —Lack of support from Republican elected officials—More on trouble selling the Wansa home due to well contamination from the Stringfellow site—The organization of community members around the Stringfellow issue—Community attitudes about the toxins at the site—Lack of knowledge in the community at present about the site—Required disclosure about the Stringfellow site when property changes hands—Lack of widespread knowledge about Stringfellow Acid Pits—The impact of Stringfellow on the community thinking about the broader problems of toxins—Defense team in Stringfellow lawsuit checks on household chemicals plaintiffs used in their homes—More on the impact of Stringfellow on community thinking about the broader problems of toxins—Tom Hayden’s contribution to the community effort—Community response to Tom Hayden’s input—Wansa’s participation in CNA activist events—CNA’s concerted effort to attract media coverage—Penny Newman’s expertise in toxins issue—An evolving interest in religious communities in environmentalism and social justice—Wansa’s sense of social justice—Joins the Peace Corp—More on Wansa’s sense of social justice—The transmission of cultural values within Wansa’s family—The amount of environmental awareness in Glen Avon—Wansa’s tendency to question information and political statements—Founding members of CNA—Motivations for CNA founding members—Stories about the impact of the Stringfellow site that are told in the community—More on founding members of CNA—Reluctance of chemistry faculty members at UC Riverside to get involved in Stringfellow site for fear of losing grant funding—Ruth Kirkby’s claims about the Stringfellow site—Contributions of Penny Newman, Tom Hayden, and Riverside Press in the struggle—More on the reluctance of chemistry faculty members at UC Riverside to get involved in Stringfellow site for fear of losing grant funding—Advice from chemistry faculty member for place to get testing and information—Lack of testing on toxins in wells—Lack of warning sings at the toxic dumping pools—Support from County Supervisor Melba Dunlap.