CLAIM: The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) removed the air monitors from the City of Paramount – which were in place to detect levels of hexavalent chromium – in early December 2020 and the City has been lax in demanding that at least some of them be returned. At the same time, the City has done nothing to shut down highly toxic metal companies near schools and homes, as opposed to the City of Irvine, which has asked SCAQMD for air monitors and moved quickly to revoke the business license of a facility emitting bad odors near a residential neighborhood.
FACT: SCAQMD removed monitors in Paramount due to safety issues for their employees related to the pandemic. There is, though, one multi-metal monitor still operating in town that takes hourly readings of many different metals; its data is regularly read remotely by SCAQMD staff. SCAQMD has told the City that recent levels of metals from this monitor have been unremarkable and consistent with average levels observed in 2019/2020. SCAQMD is hoping to get its employees vaccinated soon but has offered no timeline. The City of Paramount does not feel it has the right to demand how another agency deals with its employees, especially in areas of personal health.
FACT: In regards to Irvine, SCAQMD has explained that the monitoring done there is VERY different than the filter-based monitoring in Paramount. In Irvine, the testing is for volatile organics, a process that does not involve a lot of human contact so their employees do not need to interact very much with one another. In Irvine it is a long-time asphalt plant that is emitting the odors, and in October 2020 the City Council directed their Police Department to explore revoking the company’s business license. An Irvine official recently confirmed to Paramount City staff that, after reviewing the matter with SCAQMD, the City has found it does not have the ability to revoke the business license, and Irvine is now working collaboratively with AQMD to monitor the situation and provide the community with information. This is exactly what happened in Paramount in 2016, and Paramount continues its efforts to contain any ill effects related to these issues.