LA County, AQMD suing firm to force chromium 6 emissions cuts

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Los Angeles County and the South Coast Air Quality Management District will seek a court order Thursday requiring  a metal plating business in Paramount to immediately curb its emissions of the carcinogen hexavalent chromium. 

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn and the AQMD say the company, Anaplex Corp., is not moving quickly enough to lower its emissions of hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium six.

Anaplex is one of two firms the AQMD has blamed for emitting unsafe levels of chromium six in the South L.A. city. Anaplex on Tuesday signaled its intention to comply with a plan to cut its emissions. 

The air district’s hearing board must approve the plan.

Noting that the hearing board's next meeting isn't until Jan. 5, AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood said, "we're not willing to wait that long to protect public health and the breathers in Paramount." 

Ortega called the joint county-AQMD lawsuit a "curious action," since the company has agreed to reduce its chromium six emissions, and has already implemented a number of emission-reduction measures.

The hearing board met last week in Diamond Bar and on Friday adopted an abatement order for Aerocraft Heat Treating Co., the other firm accused of emitting too much chromium six.

Aerocraft agreed to the order, which says that if its chromium six emissions, averaged over a week, exceed a certain threshold, then it must shut down any equipment that could emit the carcinogen. The order, which took effect immediately, also requires Aerocraft to take 22 actions to reduce its chromium six emissions.

At the time, Anaplex declined to accept a similar abatement order.

In a Dec. 13 letter to the hearing board, the company's lawyers said there was "inconclusive" evidence that Anaplex was a major source of elevated chromium six emissions. They said the highest emissions recorded near the facility occurred on a Saturday, when the company was not conducting any chromium plating operations.

While it still has questions about some of the monitoring data, Anaplex has changed its position regarding the abatement order.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the AQMD, Anaplex' lawyers said the company now agrees to abide by the same terms handed down to Aerocraft, pending a formal hearing board order.

But the Anaplex letter "offered too little, too late," said the AQMD's Atwood. 

Anaplex "had their opportunity to agree to an order for abatement," he said. "They declined, the time has passed for that opportunity, and now we're going to court to make sure there's an enforceable agreement in place as soon as possible."

Atwood acknowledged that the county and the AQMD will seek a temporary restraining order that would impose the terms of the Aerocraft arrangement on Anaplex.

Meanwhile, Anaplex has filed a request under California's Public Records Act for AQMD's monitoring data that was cited in the air district's complaint against the facility. 

"This data is necessary in order to formulate a response that is meaningful to any emissions reduction plan," said Ortega.  

This story has been updated to clarify that Anaplex says it has already taken steps to curb its chromium six emissions, and that it is seeking air monitoring data from the AQMD.

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