What was the issue the City of Paramount faced regarding elevated levels of hexavalent chromium, and how was the issue resolved?
In 2016, the City of Paramount learned that extremely high levels of a toxic metal, hexavalent chromium (CR6+), had been detected in the city’s air. While the South Coast Air Quality Management Division (AQMD) was the agency that detected the CR6+ concentration and also had the regulatory responsibility for enforcing air quality laws, City leaders jumped in immediately to do what they could.
Through close collaboration with AQMD, the City worked to assist and expedite AQMD’s efforts to investigate the excessive levels of CR6+ and hold responsible parties accountable. The City of Paramount supplied the names of all metal-related companies in town based on the city’s business license database, provided city code enforcement officers to help AQMD investigators conduct inspections, sped the installation of additional air samplers by waiving encroachment permits and arranging for the use of Southern California Edison for power poles, paid for a Spanish translation during AQMD’s weekly conference calls to help inform the public, and offered the use of city facilities for AQMD field staff working around the clock in Paramount.
The City also enacted an 18-month moratorium on all new metal businesses and expansion of existing ones, formed a City Council Air Quality Subcommittee, and established www.paramountenvironment.org as an environmental website for the city.
By 2018, CR6+ had returned to normal levels in Paramount. In late 2018, AQMD recognized the city’s significant role in addressing the issue with the Model Community Achievement Award, which celebrates outstanding clean air contributions to the health of communities and their economies.
To learn more, read a July 2019 Western City article by Paramount Public Information Officer Chris Callard.