The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) hosted a Town Hall meeting in the City of Paramount on Tuesday, June 13. SCAQMD personnel provided an update for the public on the air monitoring and investigations related to hexavalent chromium emissions from metal-processing facilities, including Anaplex, Aerocraft, and odor issues related to Carlton Forge Works.
Before the meeting, staff members from each major division of SCAQMD — including Compliance and Enforcement, Monitoring, and Media, among others — made themselves available to speak directly with members of the public. Although attendees were invited to address SCAQMD during the Town Hall, this forum allowed for smaller, more intimate discussions.
At 6:00 p.m., SCAQMD Executive Officer Wayne Nastri opened the meeting by thanking everyone for attending. After Paramount City Council members, staff from County and State elected officials, and personnel from regulating agencies were introduced, Lynda Johnson, field representative for Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, gave a statement expressing the supervisor’s support for residents and the combined efforts of all agencies working on this issue.
SCAQMD staff reports began with background information on the District’s efforts in Paramount since 2013. After finding that Anaplex Corporation and Aerocraft Heat Treating Company were sources of hexavalent chromium, SCAQMD has been attempting to discover other facilities in the southern part of the City that likewise emit hexavalent chromium, even expanding their search to the City of Compton.
Assistant Deputy Executive Officer of Science and Technology Advancement Dr. Jason Low provided an update on air monitoring and trends. The monthly average of hexavalent chromium concentrations in the air has lowered since December 2016, he explained. SCAQMD has taken over 1,400 samples collected in 30 different locations throughout Paramount. The District plans on continuing air monitoring at Lincoln, Gaines, and Mokler elementary schools in the coming months.
Marian Coleman, Acting Assistant Deputy Executive Officer of Enforcement and Compliance, described the multi-agency collaboration and working relationships between various regulators. Derrick Alatorre, Deputy Executive Officer, wrapped up the presentation by discussing SCAQMD’s efforts in community outreach.
Notably, Acting Assistant Chief Deputy Counsel Nicholas Sanchez informed the audience that SCAQMD issued an Order for Abatement to Carlton Forge as a result of its persistent odor issues. Carlton Forge Works has received 17 Notices of Violation (NOV) for nuisance odors, in violation of the Agency’s Rule 402. A hearing of the independent Hearing Board is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, July 13 at 9:00 a.m. at SCAQMD Headquarters in Diamond Bar.
Members of the public were invited to ask questions directly to the panel of speakers. Many residents thanked SCAQMD for their continuing investigations and actions, described their first-hand experiences and frustrations with these issues, and asked for clarification on the District’s next steps.
Katie Butler, Epidemiology Analyst at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH), and Ruben Frutos, Assistant Superintendent of Paramount Unified School District (PUSD), stepped in to provide details about soil testing and PUSD policies, respectively. DPH has provided a fact sheet on their website to offer additional answers to frequently asked questions. Similarly, Frutos responded to residents’ queries regarding high-quality filter systems installed in the air conditioning systems at schools and PUSD’s plans to look into additional measures to ensure students’ health.
A few residents asked about the authority or power that the District, the City, or other agencies have in regards to acting on environmental health risks. Jane Williams, Executive Director of California Communities Against Toxics, suggested that air quality has been a problem in Paramount for many years and her group, specifically, has been working on the issue for five years. In response, Nastri confirmed that SCAQMD is working on a series of rules based on what they have learned from the investigations in Paramount.
Two members of the City Council Air Quality Sub Committee — Mauricio Hernandez and Guillermo Parga — also spoke to the panel, urging audience members to attend the Sub Committee meetings. Both discussed their roles with the Sub Committee and described how important it is to receive the community’s input.
Closing out the public comment period, Nastri emphasized that the work done in Paramount has been unprecedented. He highlighted the helpful and collaborative efforts of the City, describing the multi-agency work as “an example of true teamwork across local and state authorities.” Paramount Mayor Peggy Lemons also offered to stay after the meeting to personally answer questions and receive comments from residents.
SCAQMD is working closely with the City Manager’s office to continue their air monitoring efforts in Paramount, and will return to the City for future meetings to update the community. To view SCAQMD’s presentation from the Town Hall, please visit this link.