A North Long Beach metal finishing facility has been ordered to reduce its emissions of the human carcinogen hexavalent chromium (chromium 6) after the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) detected high levels in recent months.
SCAQMD’s independent hearing board approved the Order for Abatement for Lubeco Inc., located at 6859 Downey Avenue, during its August 23 meeting after SCAQMD filed its petition for the administrative order with the board on July 21, according to a SCAQMD release.
Public hearings on the issue were held August 17 and 23.
The company primarily serves the aerospace industry and is located a mere 300 feet from residential dwellings and has elementary schools located just blocks away to its west and north.
“As a result of extensive investigations of toxic emissions from metal processing facilities, we identified Lubeco as a source of elevated emissions of hexavalent chromium,” Wayne Nastri, SCAQMD’s executive officer, said in a statement. “We expect this order to help protect the health and safety of residents in this area.”
The investigations took place between May 13 and July 12 during which chromium 6 levels detected outside the facility were measured to be 18 times the normal ambient air background levels, a violation of the state Health and Safety Code. The district deemed the levels to be a “significant risk”, which by its own definition means cancer risk of “100 in a million”, something the abatement order says Lubeco is currently exceeding based on emission models.
The City of Long Beach began working with the SCAQMD in February 2017 after community members along the Paramount border began to complain of the metallic smelling emissions and reports began to surface of plants in Paramount being cited for similar violations that Lubeco was served the abatement order for.
Commonly referred to as chromium 6, hexavalent chromium is toxic and inhaling the substance for long periods increases the risk of lung and nasal cancers as well as other respiratory issues. Exposure to the substance can also occur through eating or drinking contaminated foods or water and through direct skin contact.
The hearing board’s order includes short- and long-term measures meant to reduce Lubeco’s chromium 6 emissions. As such, the company will be required to curtail its operation of uncontrolled equipment emitting chromium 6 when concentrations of hexavalent chrome exceed 1 nanogram per cubic meter, based on a three-sample average, the release stated.
Lubeco will also submit a plan that is expected to result in the addition of new air pollution control equipment at the facility.
Photo courtesy of Lubeco.