U.S. EPA conducts surprise inspections targeting SoCal, NoCal, metal finishers / Agency fines facilities across LA, San Fernando Valley, for hazardous waste violations

Release date: 09/23/2010

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is pursuing enforcement against California metal finishing companies for violations of federal hazardous waste laws. The violations were discovered during inspections conducted in Los Angeles, Rosemead, Sun Valley, Compton, Van Nuys, South El Monte and Santa Clara during the current fiscal year.

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.

“Hazardous wastes pose a danger to residents and can cause serious environmental damage,” said Jeff Scott, director of the EPA’s Waste Management Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “EPA is committed to aggressive enforcement of federal law to protect communities and workers from the potential impacts of improperly managed hazardous waste.”

Metal finishers typically generate hazardous wastes like: acids and sludges that contain heavy metals such as chromium, cadmium, and lead; spent plating solutions containing metals or cyanides; flammable liquids; and, both alkaline and acidic corrosive liquids.

The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act requires companies to properly manage hazardous waste to prevent harm to human health and the environment. During fiscal year 2010, EPA targeted the metal finishing industry for inspections. 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
    · Storage of hazardous waste for over 90 days without a permit

The companies that have settled with the EPA are:

Al’s Plating Company ($2,800)
318 West 131st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90061

Hermetic Seal Corporation ($28,000)
4232 Temple City Blvd.
Rosemead, CA 91770

Nu-Metal Finishing ($5,200)
2262 Calle del Mundo
Santa Clara, CA 95054

Photo Chem Etch Corp. ($2,000)
7170 San Fernando Rd
Sun Valley, CA 91352

Bowman Plating Company ($48,500)
2631 East 126th St.
Compton, CA 90222

AAA Plating and Inspection ($19,800)
424 Dixon St.
Compton, CA 90222

Highland Plating ($7,500)
1001 N. Orange Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Vaga Industries ($35,000)
2505 Loma Avenue
South El Monte, CA 91733

Bronzeway Plating Corp. ($7,000)
3432 E. 15th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Two of the fined facilities are in Compton, which is one of several densely populated communities closest to the I-710 Freeway, where the effects of pollution are disproportionately higher than in other areas of Los Angeles County. Approximately 1 million people, about 70% of whom are minority and low-income households, are severely impacted by pollution from industrial activities in
the area and goods movement along the freeway.

Federal, state and local regulatory agencies have formed an Enforcement Collaborative to focus resources over a multi-year effort to ensure that businesses and industries in this area are complying with environmental laws. U.S. EPA is joining forces with Cal/EPA, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Air Resources Board in the Enforcement Collaborative, which is partnering with other local government and non-profit organizations to improve environmental and public health conditions in these communities.

U.S. EPA will continue to devote resources to conducting inspections of generators of hazardous waste and pursuing appropriate enforcement in the next fiscal year 2011.

For more information, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/lawsregs/laws/rcra.html

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