EPA Settles Air Toxic Emissions Cases With Three Los Angeles-area Companies

The Environmental Protection Agency has settled administrative cases against three Los Angeles-area companies for failing to comply with federal standards for air toxics emissions.

The three companies, Advanced Coating and Silkscreening Inc. of Gardena, and Optical Components Inc. and Shurco Tool Co. Inc. of Covina, all use halogenated solvents in their degreaser machines to clean parts. EPA alleged the companies failed to comply with National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for degreasers. Under the settlements, Advanced Coating, Shurco Tool and Optical Components will pay civil penalties of $13,800, $46,200 and $93,500 respectively. All three companies also certified compliance with the NESHAP requirements.

"Companies with degreasing operations must comply with air pollution laws so their operations don't release excessive toxic emissions," said Jack Broadbent, director of the EPA's Air Division in San Francisco. "I hope the EPA's action here will send a clear message to companies that they will face federal enforcement if they fail to abide by requirements to control emissions from halogenated solvent degreasing operations."

EPA issued administrative orders on June 24 to Optical Components and Shurco Tool requiring them to comply with the NESHAP for degreasers as soon as was practical. Advanced Coating received an administative order on May 9, 2002. The companies could have been penalized a maximum of $27,500 per day of NESHAP violations.

EPA began inspecting companies in the Los Angeles area that use halogenated solvents in 2001 at the request of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) after a survey by the two agencies found few facilities in the area were complying with the NESHAP for degreasers.

The survey was done in anticipation of an AQMD rule, effective at the beginning of this year, tightening regulation on halogenated solvents. The rule requires degreasing facilities to convert to aqueous cleaning systems while giving them the option to continue using halogenated solvents if they do so with airless or airtight equipment. Both options are acceptable under the federal rules. According to AQMD, conversion to aqueous systems is the most viable and cost-effective compliance solution for most companies currently subject to the NESHAP.

EPA completed approximately two dozen inspections over a six-month period. As a result, EPA issued administrative orders to those companies that were not in compliance with the NESHAP. Follow-up inspections may be done at these companies to ensure they are complying with applicable air pollution laws.

Among other things, the NESHAP governs how much halogenated solvent, such as trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene and 1,1,1-trichloroethane, a company can emit from machines used to degrease metal parts. Halogenated solvents can emit volatile organic compounds, a key component of smog. Potential health effects resulting from exposure to hazardous air pollutants include leukemia and other cancers, and reproductive and developmental effects.

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