Southern California breaking news and trends

EPA says 160,000 discarded tires pose dangerous fire risk

tire recycling mecca, ca

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90333 63rd Avenue, Mecca, CA

The Environmental Protection Agency is fired up over a tire recycling plant in the desert.

About a year ago, federal regualors told Mecca's Consolidated Tire Recyclers that its outdoor piles of discarded tires posed a fire risk, and needed to be removed, or they could face fines of up to $7,500 per day.

The Desert Sun reports that the dangerous hazard -- originally estimated at 70,000 tires -- has now more than doubled, with operators removing only 10,000 tires since April.

The facility, located within the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians Reservation, about 140 miles southeast of Los Angeles, suffered a fire on July 4 causing $400,000 in damage to one of the buildings. 

The operation primarily sells crumb rubber as fuel to a power generation plant, according to the EPA. In a release, the agency detailed some of the potential dangers of tire fires:

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Why your peanut butter won't ignite: Flame retardant found in food

peanut butter

Photo by Bill Keaggy via Flickr Creative Commons

No wonder it's so difficult to burn calories. The flame retardant HBCD has been detected in a sampling of fatty foods, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Texas School of Public Health.

HBCD (or, hexabromocyclododecane), an ingredient of polystyrene foam used in insulation and consumer products, was found in a variety of lipid rich foods like poultry, fish, beef and peanut butter.

Researchers tested non-organic, grocery store food purchased in the Dallas area in 2009 and 2010. Detectable levels the toxic mixture was found in nearly half of the study's samples.

The commercial flame retardant is an ongoing concern for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

HBCD is found world-wide in the environment and wildlife. It is also found in human breast milk, adipose tissue, and blood. It bioaccumulates in living organisms and biomagnifies in the food chain. It is persistent in the environment and is transported long distances.


HBCD is highly toxic to aquatic organisms. It also presents human health concerns based on animal test results indicating potential reproductive, developmental and neurological effects.

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Superfund cleanup list is littered with two new LA County sites

superfund sign

Photo by fantail media via Flickr Creative Commons

Two hazardous waste sites in Los Angeles County have been added to the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund cleanup list.

The EPA says groundwater and soil samples from the newly listed locales indicate high levels of trichloroethylene (TCE), a metal-cleaning solvent, at Southern Avenue Industrial Area and the Jervis B. Webb Co., both situated in South Gate.

Wells near the sites that supply drinking water are not currently contaminated, according to the EPA statement, but a possibility for future contamination exists, they say.

KPCC's Molly Peterson described the two South Gate sites last fall, and reported on TCE's presence in other Superfund sites around Southern California.

Peterson explains why Superfund matters, and why it's funding is not so super, noting that putting a site on a list is not the same thing as cleaning it up. 

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Well, well, well... EPA digs for chromium-6 in Burbank and Glendale

well

Photo by Mark Kelley via Flickr Creative Commons

The San Fernando Valley's aero-tech industry may have been dismantled decades ago but its carcinogens live on in local water wells. 

Chromium-6, the toxic contaminant brought to widespread attention by Erin Brockovich, has been detected in groundwater, however the extent of contamination in unknown.

In an effort to determine the reach of the underground spread, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be installing thirty wells in Glendale and Burbank "to figure out whether the areas [where] we don't have wells have contamination," EPA project manager Lisa Hanusiak told the L.A. Times

Data from the new wells will enhance the picture already being developed from the area's existing monitoring stations. For the next two years, groundwater samples will be collected by the EPA every three months, according to a city report.

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EPA signs ship sewage rule, no dumping within three miles from CA shore

cruise ship tiltshift san pedro

Photo by millerm217 via Flickr Creative Commons

Beach-goers can expect less sewage in the surf this season thanks to a new dumping rule that goes into effect next month.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency signed on Thursday a rule to keep cruise ships and other large commercial vessels from unloading sewage that's too close for coastal comfort.

Restrictions ban large ships from discharging sewage, regardless of whether it's treated, within three miles of the California coast.  Officials estimate the rule, which takes effect in March, will keep 22 million nasty gallons from mingling with state coasts every year.

Treated waste water still carries bacteria and chemicals that harm the coastal ecosystem – not to mention people.

Palo Alto state senator Joe Simitian wrote a state law banning the release of sewage sludge and water off-shore back in 2005.

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