SCAQMD Executive Officer Barry Wallerstein speaks to residents during a town hall meeting discussing recent findings from air monitoring and enforcement efforts related to AllenCo Energy, Inc. in the University Park. The meeting was hosted by the South Coast Air Quality Management District on Wednesday at Mount St. Mary's College.
The operator of a South Los Angeles oil production facility says it will respond to a notice of violations issued by Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday.
Federal regulators issued a press release and a copy of the violation notice, in which the EPA alleges that AllenCo’s University Park facility failed to meet Clean Air and Clean Water Act requirements.
“We saw the press release yesterday from EPA,” said Peter Wittingham, a spokesman for the company. “The actual notice was mailed to AllenCo, so as of today they have received it.”
Wittingham characterized the notice of violations as “administrative in nature.”
“They are all frankly record keeping, inspections or paperwork filing [violations],” he said. “But the company will definitely respond to them promptly and get that information to the EPA.”
An employee wearing a breathing mask works at Exide Technologies.
Air quality regulators have filed a lawsuit seeking up to $40 million dollars in civil penalties against a controversial lead battery recycling facility in Vernon.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District alleges Exide Technologies has committed numerous air pollution violations linked to lead and arsenic emissions. In the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, attorneys for AQMD allege repeated violations of the state's Health and Safety Code. The violations carry penalties of between $10,000 and $40,000 apiece for each day the violations occurred.
In a statement, AQMD executive officer Barry Wallerstein said the emissions have exposed more than 100,000 households around the facility to what he called "an unacceptable cancer risk."
The lawsuit comes nearly a week after the AQMD's governing board adopted new regulations limiting arsenic emissions from lead-acid battery plants. The agency is also seeking authority to stop smelting operations at Exide until it revamps its air pollution control systems.
A representative from Exide said the company is reviewing the lawsuit.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) calls on AllenCo to halt operations while the EPA investigates claims of health impacts from fumes at its University Park facility.
Federal environmental regulators have found that the Allenco oil facility in South Los Angeles has violated clean air and water laws.
Some officials with the Environmental Protection Agency got dizzy and nauseous while touring the company's oil pumping facility in the University Park neighborhood last October.
Now the EPA has issued a formal notice of violation to the company, alleging it has failed to meet requirements of the the federal Clean Water and Clean Air Acts.
Upon investigation, EPA officials found that Allenco didn’t have a proper plan in place to protect local waters in the event of an oil spill. EPA also alleges that Allenco has offered no evidence that it has tested pressure vessels, tanks and methane detectors necessary for keeping the facility safe.
Allenco must now answer the notice of violation in writing and tell the EPA whether it will fix the problems.
Exide opponent Barbara Martinez of La Educacion during a town hall meeting at the Resurrection School in October 2013.
Regional air regulators are tightening rules for arsenic and other toxic emissions at battery recycling plants in Southern California.
The new regulations affect the only two large-scale lead battery recycling facilities west of the Mississippi: Exide Technologies in Vernon, and Quemetco in the City of Industry.
Last year air officials found that Exide’s arsenic emissions raised the cancer risk for more than 100,000 households between Boyle Heights and Huntington Park. Since then, it has fought efforts by two different regulatory agencies and grassroots activists to shut it down, and declared bankruptcy.
RELATED: A timeline of the Exide story
Friday’s unanimous vote by the governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District lowers the allowable limits for arsenic emissions and two types of organic emissions, benzene and 1,3-butadiene. The battery recyclers will have 60 days to lower arsenic emissions to an interim level; they have a year to reach the final lower levels called for in the rule.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
CA Gov. Jerry Brownholds up a legislation which he signed authorizing initial construction of California's $68 billion high-speed rail line.
Surging revenue returned a wave of funding to environmental issues in California, as Governor Jerry Brown released his budget Thursday.
It’s a good news kind of year. Maintenance for state parks deferred in lean budget years gets a $40 billion boost this time around. And Brown’s budget anticipates a lean water year, upping investments in water storage, like groundwater aquifers and reservoirs, and regional water self-sufficiency.
State parks also got a one-time $14 million infusion, welcome news to the California State Parks Foundation.
“We hope that it is the beginning of a more stable period for state parks,” said the group’s president, Elizabeth Goldstein, in a release. “We are pleased that this infusion of one-time funding reverses the trend of closures that have characterized the past six years.”