Lubeco, Inc in North Long Beach was identified as a source of elevated levels of hexavalent chromium. Google screenshot
As levels of hexavalent chromium (chromium 6) spike along the Paramount-Long Beach border, the South Coast Air Quality Management District identified a Long Beach business as a source of emissions of the cancer-causing agent and has filed a petition for the company to abate or close down its operations.
The company in question is a metal finishing plant in North Long Beach called Lubeco, Inc. 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.
In the SCAQMD’s petition for abatement, it states that without appropriate air pollution controls, the hexavalent chromium within the facility “likely contribute to the elevated levels measured at the monitor near the facility.”
The levels detected outside Lubeco between May 13 and July 12 were measured to be 18 times the normal ambient air background levels, a violation of the California 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.
Since then, the city has assembled a team consisting of inspectors from the city’s fire, health and human services and development services departments to help address the possible air quality impacts in the city’s industrial areas.
"The Health Department has been diligently monitoring this issue and is working closely with our Fire Department, AQMD, Los Angeles County Health and other agencies to ensure this matter is addressed as effectively as possible, with the ultimate purpose of protecting the health of residents in the area," said Department of Health and Human Services Director Kelly Colopy.
Detecting Lubeco’s violations was the result of the SCAQMD’s adding extra monitoring sites near the border with Paramount as well as in Long Beach itself. A city release put out Monday night said that Long Beach officials are tracking the data collected from these sites to proactively build business profiles, and are conducting their own inspections to ensure that its industrial areas are up to code.
The city and the SCAQMD jointly conducted an inspection in Northeast Long Beach, where two facilities had been highlighted as potential sources for the spikes in hexavalent chromium leading to the petition against Lubeco. The SCAQMD’s board is expected to hear the petition at its August 23rd meeting.
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.
In a newsletter to his constituents, Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, who represents North Long Beach and made the motion to initiate the city’s work with the SCAQMD in February, said that the city will continue to monitor the situation and will disclose new information at an upcoming community meeting.
“The health and safety of our North Long Beach families and residents is of utmost importance to us. In the weeks to come, we will be working with the City Manager and AQMD to host a community meeting with residents in the adjacent neighborhoods, and will share that date as soon as we have it,” Richardson said. “We will also continue to provide updates on the monitoring of North Long Beach locations.”