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Paramount firm ordered to control emissions

DIAMOND BAR — Air regulators ruled Jan. 10 that a second Paramount business must immediately control its emissions of the carcinogen hexavalent chromium.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District Hearing Board approved an abatement order concerning Anaplex Corp., a metal finishing company at 15547 Garfield Ave. The order requires Anaplex to shut down all equipment with the potential to emit hexavalent chromium if the facility has caused outdoor levels to exceed one nanogram per cubic meter of air, according to SCAQMD spokesman Sam Atwood.

A similar order from the five-member board involving nearby Aerocraft Heat Treating Company was agreed to by both parties last month.

The AQMD on Nov. 30 identified Aerocraft and Anaplex as significant sources of chromium emissions. The next day, county public health officials directed both companies to take immediate action to reduce emissions, including suspending operations if necessary to eliminate danger to the public.

“We have made this issue priority No. 1 and we are pleased that the hearing board has adopted this order,” AQMD Executive Officer Wayne Nastri said. “We now have enforceable orders in place to protect Paramount residents from the two facilities we have identified as high emitters of hexavalent chromium.”

Anaplex spokesman Adan Ortega told City News Service that the company agreed to the one-nanogram-per-cubic-meter threshold weeks ago.

“The rest was in the details in terms of AQMD giving us the list of equipment that was relevant to the abatement order,” Ortega said.

“We’re happy to have come to an agreement with regulators toward the common goal of assuring the public through our best efforts about the safe operation of Anaplex in the community of Paramount,” he added.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-South Gate, called for additional actions to be taken by the AQMD and the Paramount City Council to respond to the high levels of Chromium 6.

“As both a representative and a resident of Paramount, I am dismayed that our community has become the latest example of people being exposed to dangerous toxic chemicals,” Rendon said in a statement he submitted to the hearing board. “Especially because, once again, a company is breaking the rules and regulations are insufficiently protective of public health. This is a vicious cycle that has played out too many times in Southeast Los Angeles County.”

Rendon urged the board to put an immediate stop to the excessive Chromium 6 emissions coming from Anaplex and asked the board to require Anaplex to take any additional actions necessary to immediately address the chromium 6 pollution found on the roof and to stop all chromium 6 emitting operations until permit violations are resolved.

“We don’t want any more Exides where repeated violations are allowed to go unanswered for years, especially with the public health dangers posed by cumulative exposure to toxic chemicals,” Rendon said in a written statement.

Exide is a battery recycling plant in Vernon that was closed in 2015 after causing toxic emissions to be released in the atmosphere.

In a statement issued to the Paramount City Council Jan. 10, Rendon praised the council for its proactive approach in purchasing additional air monitors, but warned there were other steps that must be taken as well.

“I would hope that the information gathered from these monitors can be used to better inform the land use decisions that come before the council,” Rendon wrote. “Additionally, it would be worth examining how the cost of monitoring can be borne by the businesses that produce emissions and not by the taxpayers.”

Rendon also encouraged the city to be engaged in the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s latest rule making regarding metal forges, Rule 1430, saying, “The council should be asking for the most protective regulations considering the concentration of metal working facilities in the city — including larger buffer zones for schools. Additionally the city should be impressing on the district that Rule 1430 is only acceptable as the first step in looking at emissions from a wider universe of metal working facilities.”

The AQMD has been been monitoring for toxic metals, particularly hexavalent chromium and nickel, since 2013. In August 2016, staffers reported hexavalent chromium levels in one residential area of Paramount — at Vermont Avenue near Jefferson Street — at five times higher than typical background levels in Southern California.

In late October 2016, a monitor in the vicinity of Madison Street and Minnesota Avenue, a mostly industrial area, measured localized levels of the heavy metal about 350 times higher than typical background levels. Both Anaplex and Aerocraft Heat Treating, which process parts for the aerospace and defense industries, operate nearby.

The agency noted that breathing high levels of hexavalent chromium for many years can increase a person’s risk of developing lung cancer.