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Community Story: Bus Tour Airs Complaints, Leads To Discovery Of Environmental Violations

El Monte was one of the stops on the first DTSC EJ bus tour. After hearing complaints of odor and soot reportedly emanating from a local Gregg Industries plant, DTSC investigated and found violations, including disposal of hazardous waste to the air and ground, left. The facility, which generated hazardous waste during its manufacture of iron castings, closed in 2009, six months after issuing a press release about a decline in customer orders.

I t was the very first Department of Toxic Substances Controlsponsored bus tour that led enforcement personnel to check on a facility manufacturing iron castings in El Monte.

People living nearby the Los Angeles County site of Gregg Industries Inc. told government officials on the bus in 2007 about soot and odors.

DTSC inspectors later visited the site and cited the company for several environmental violations, including illegal disposal of hazardous waste , failing to minimize releases, having open, rather than covered containers of waste, and storing a 300gallon container in a yard without proper labeling and documentation about how its contents accumulated. (DTSC later analyzed the contents and found isopropylbenzene, toluene and naphthalene ‐‐ all of which can be dangerous to human health.)

The story doesn’t end there, however. DTSC shared its inspection information with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), since DTSC inspectors had noticed emissions at the site. SCAQMD personnel visited the site and issued citations for odors and other violations that included

operating equipment in violation of the conditions in the facility’s air pollution permits.

In 2008, Gregg Industries settled with the air district for $4.7 million and agreed to take steps to reduce the environmental and potential health impact of its operations. Among the steps called for were the hiring of an independent environmental observer as well as the hiring of a fulltime environmental engineer at the facility to provide technical expertise on environmental regulatory requirements. Gregg also was to phase out the use of resins with a high organic content, which had been blamed for creating odors. The company also needed to submit a plan to the SCAQMD on how it would use fume and dust control equipment. In a press release that year, Gregg noted the investments would make the El Monte facility “the cleanest foundry in North America.”

But six months later, Gregg announced the closure of the foundry, so the environmental improvements were never completed.

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