In October 2016, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) deployed air monitors to collect information about the levels and source of hexavalent chromium emissions in Paramount. Initial results of this monitoring network revealed troubling levels of hexavalent chromium in the city. Armed with this information, SCAQMD, the Los Angeles County Fire Department (which is the Certified Unified Program Agency, or CUPA, that regulates hazardous materials and wastes in the city), CalEPA’s boards and departments, and federal environmental officials have coordinated extensive inspections in the city to identify the source of hexavalent chromium as well as to address other pollution issues facing the city’s residents.
In addition to this inspections work, SCAQMD and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health held town hall meetings in November and December 2016, to provide information on air monitoring efforts and the investigation of hexavalent chromium sources. SCAQMD also continues to hold two weekly calls, one to provide updates to the community on its investigation into the hexavalent chromium emissions and the community’s concerns, in both Spanish and English, and another to provide updates and coordinate with the federal, state, and local agencies with jurisdiction over environmental and public health issues in Paramount.
Below is an overview of the work of the various state and local agency partners to address pollution concerns in Paramount.
Enforcement Activity in Paramount
SCAQMD regulates facilities that emit air pollution in Paramount. It was under this authority that SCAQMD initiated the air monitors to gather data about hexavalent chromium emissions. SCAQMD has conducted thorough investigations to identify and address the sources of hexavalent chromium in Paramount. Information about SCAQMD’s monitoring and enforcement efforts, including its actions against two facilities identified as potential sources of hexavalent chromium, Anaplex and Aerocraft, is available on SCAQMD’s website. SCAQMD conducted more than 190 facility inspections in the city in the two months following the spike in emissions. Many of the inspections were done jointly with the regulatory agencies described below. SCAQMD has issued more than ten notices of violation listed on its website and more than 60 notices to comply with air regulations as a result of these inspections. SCAQMD petitioned its hearing board to issue orders for abatement to Anaplex and Aerocraft, which require those facilities to immediately control their hexavalent chromium emissions and shut down operations if certain emission levels are detected.
LA County Fire Department
In its role as the CUPA responsible for hazardous materials and wastes at facilities in Paramount, the Los Angeles County Fire Department Health Hazardous Materials Division (HHMD) joined SCAQMD in multi-agency inspections and conducted its own investigations of facilities in Paramount. LA County Fire HHMD visited 166 facilities as a part of the multi-agency sweeps organized by SCAQMD and conducted full inspections of facilities found during the sweeps to have compliance issues. It issued notices of violation to three facilities, Aerocraft, Pro Cast, and Aeroforming, for violations relating to hazardous waste dust. More information about its investigation and enforcement in Paramount is available at LA County Fire HHMD’s website.
DTSC, along with the CUPA, has authority to enforce hazardous materials and hazardous waste storage, treatment, and transportation laws. DTSC joined the other environmental agencies on 59 facility inspections from November 2016 to January 2017.
Prior to the recent hexavalent chromium emissions, DTSC, in coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), investigated community concerns. On May 1, 2015, DTSC enforcement staff assisted U.S. EPA with an inspection at the Carlton Forge Works facility, reviewing facility compliance with all of the hazardous waste requirements normally enforced by the CUPA. As a result of this joint inspection, in June 2015, U.S. EPA issued Carlton Forge Works four violations under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the nation’s law for regulating hazardous waste. The violations included failing to appropriately secure tops of containers that held hazardous wastes and failing to maintain evidence that material could legally be recycled. For more information on U.S. EPA’s enforcement and compliance activity at Carlton Forge, see U.S. EPA’s ECHO database.
DTSC had previously entered into a cooperative agreement with U.S. EPA to conduct an investigation of facilities that are the focus of environmental concerns in the community. Under the cooperative agreement, DTSC conducted site discovery work in Paramount using software DTSC developed to track the migration of pollution and data from environmental regulatory databases to pinpoint areas in Paramount where likely sources of groundwater and drinking water contamination may be found. In June 2016, DTSC issued a report identifying 11 sites as part of the study in Paramount. U.S. EPA is reviewing the information and will determine what further investigations or actions by U.S. EPA is required.
Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board
The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) regulates discharges of pollutants that affect the region’s water quality. It issues discharge and stormwater permits and enforces compliance with those permits. As of February 2017, the Regional Board has conducted 75 inspections in Paramount, resulting in the identification of 29 businesses that should be enrolled in the State’s General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activities or that may qualify to file for Non-Enrolment Certification. The Regional Board continues to review additional facilities in the area for further investigation.
Air Resources Board
The Air Resources Board (ARB) has oversight authority over the efforts of local air quality management districts to achieve and maintain ambient air quality standards. ARB is also the state agency with authority to adopt statewide airborne toxic control measures (ATCM) intended to reduce exposure to toxic air contaminants, such as hexavalent chromium, from industrial processes. In its oversight role, ARB enforcement staff participated in approximately 20 multi-agency inspections in Paramount, including early inspections of sites that had been identified as having processes related to hexavalent chromium emissions. ARB did not issue any notices of violation.
After its initial air monitoring discovered elevated hexavalent chromium emissions in October 2016, SCAQMD, with assistance provided by ARB, expanded monitoring in Paramount to 18 monitors, including the installation of seven monitors at six community schools. The monitors continue to collect samples every three days and hexavalent chromium levels detected by the monitors is posted on SCAQMD’s website. Through the expanded monitoring, SCAQMD has identified several sources that are contributing to the hexavalent chromium levels in Paramount. As described above and on its website, SCAQMD is working to reduce those hexavalent chromium emissions from these facilities through its enforcement process.
SCAQMD, with assistance from ARB, also is conducting ambient monitoring for hexavalent chromium at several school sites within the Paramount community. The hexavalent chromium levels measured at the schools are near the background levels found throughout the Los Angeles area. For more information about background levels of air toxics, see SCAQMD’s Multiple Air Toxics Exposure Study.
The State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water regulates the public drinking water system in the City of Paramount to ensure it meets federal and state safe drinking water standards. The most recent regular sampling of Paramount’s drinking water in 2014 found that the level of hexavalent chromium was below 1 microgram per liter (ug/l), well below the California standard of 10 ug/l. Nevertheless, the Division of Drinking Water and the City of Paramount took new samples on December 20, 2016, to ensure the drinking water is still safe in light of the recent air emissions. The results show that all samples are non-detect (less than 1 ug/l) for hexavalent chromium. For more information about drinking water in Paramount, see the City of Paramount’s environmental information portal.
Soil Contamination Issues
DTSC is working to determine whether people may be exposed to contamination deposited in the community’s soil. In May 2014, DTSC began the process of overseeing the testing of soil and dust in the neighborhood around Carlton Forge. DTSC approved the sampling plan in early December 2014 and completed the sampling by the end of that month. DTSC performed specialized testing for rare earth metals requested by members of the community. Sampling results found elevated levels of metals, mostly cobalt and nickel, in some samples near Carlton Forge. DTSC did not detect hexavalent chromium in these soil samples. Carlton Forge implemented mitigation measures that reduced fugitive dust from their operations to address the release of cobalt and nickel.
Based on these findings, DTSC directed Carlton Forge to conduct a Human Health Risk Assessment to determine whether the metals in the soil pose a health risk to people in Paramount. The facility turned in a draft of the risk assessment in November 2016. DTSC is reviewing the document and will provide Carlton Forge with information on any aspects of the assessment that need to be modified. DTSC currently estimates that finalizing the assessment could be done in the first quarter of 2017. More information is available in DTSC’s database on Carlton Forge.
DTSC was able to reach cooperative agreement with the City of Paramount to sample the soil at Village Skate Park in the city. The city submitted a sampling plan to DTSC in February 2017 and DTSC reviewed and approved the plan. Sampling is to start in March 2017.
Last Updated: March 7, 2017