SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's surprise inspections of California metal finishing companies has resulted in citations and fines totaling $155,800 against nine of them  for violations of federal hazardous waste laws.

As a result of these enforcement actions, all nine companies returned to compliance with federal law and paid fines ranging from $2,000 to $48,500. One company also agreed to attend Compliance School in which employees are trained in appropriate on-site hazardous waste management techniques.

EPA said significant violations found during the California inspections included:

     * Failing to maintain the facility to minimize the possibility of a release of hazardous waste to air, soil, or surface water which could threaten human health or contaminate the environment;
     * Failing to label containers of hazardous waste which increases the possibility of improper handling of the waste;
     * Failing to properly characterize wastes, which led to hazardous waste being disposed of in the general trash;
     * Failing to close containers of hazardous waste, which increases workers’ exposure to hazardous constituents, contributes to air pollution, and increases the likelihood of spills;
     * Failing to prepare or meet the requirements of a contingency plan, which increases the possibility of improper response to emergencies;
     * Failing to provide proper training, which increases workers’ risk of exposure and increases the possibility of improper management of the wastes:
     * Failing to inspect hazardous waste storage areas, increasing the possibility that containers may leak; and
     * Storing hazardous waste for over 90 days without a permit.

The companies that have settled with the EPA are:

     * AAA Plating and Inspection of Compton, $19,800;
     * Al’s Plating Co. of Los Angeles, $2,800;
     * Bowman Plating Co. of Compton, $48,500;
     * Bronzeway Plating Corp. of Los Angeles, $7,000;
     * Hermetic Seal Corp. of Rosemead, $28,000;
     * Highland Plating of Los Angeles, $7,500;
     * Nu-Metal Finishing of Santa Clara, $5,200;
     * Photo Chem Etch Corp. of Sun Valley, $2,000; and
     * Vaga Industries of South El Monte, $35,000.

Read the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's press release.

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