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Community Story: Plating Shop By Preschool Had Exhaust Vents Facing Toward School

Exhaust vents from Van Nuys Plating Inc. , far left, were found to face toward the nearby Child Resources Center Head Start Preschool, left. The community alerted government to the odors, which led to the discovery of several environmental violations.

T he call came in August 2009 from California Safe Schools, an organization that works to safeguard the youngest and most vulnerable in our state.

Safe Schools was worried about odors and emissions around a Head Start Preschool that was next to a plating company in Los Angeles County.

facility. (Cyanides, which can be acutely poisonous, are used to help clean and prepare metal surfaces. Acids help clean metal and treat plating hazardous wastes.)

Hazardous substances scientists from the Department of Toxic Substances Control went to the school, noticed industrial odors in the area and met with school staff to assess the situation. With the help of several environmental enforcement agencies including the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), DTSC then pieced together the enforcement history of the facility and researched permits and other legal documents.

Some two weeks later, DTSC inspectors joined SCAQMD officials to inspect Van Nuys Plating Inc. and discovered several violations, including unauthorized treatment of hazardous waste and failure to maintain buffer zones or protective distances between the plating operation and adjacent properties. DTSC also cited the incompatible mixing and storage of acids and cyanide waste at the

Because of the violations that were cited, the shop was forced to stop treating its plating waste at the site and must use an authorized waste handler, instead. The company is redesigning operations to reduce the hazardous waste generated and was ordered to change the orientation of its exhaust ducts. SCAQMD was working on monitoring the air.

Van Nuys Plating, which is next door to a home and down the street from apartments, was cited in 2005 by the U.S. EPA for violating federal hazardous waste laws.

Just yards from a preschool, Van Nuys Plating uses caustic chemical baths, left, to treat metal. DTSC found chemical spillage on the floor.

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