Frontline Community and Environmental Allies Hold Paramount Polluter Accountable for Air Quality Violations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 11, 2020
For more information, please contact Kaya Allen Sugerman at firstname.lastname@example.org
After a Four-Year Legal Battle, Environmental Justice Lawsuit Against Anaplex Corp. Reaches Settlement
LOS ANGELES – Today, the environmental health watchdog non-profit Center for Environmental Health (CEH) announced it has reached a settlement agreement with the metal processing company Anaplex Corp. Anaplex had been releasing toxic emissions into the predominantly Latinx community of Paramount for decades. The settlement will mandate an audit of Anaplex’s pollution controls and require them to take whatever measures necessary to reduce emissions if pollution exceeds mandated levels. It will also allocate additional funding to the residents of Paramount for air purification systems to filter air in homes closest to Anaplex’s operations, bringing the combined total going toward portable systems to over $65,000.
“We are pleased to announce this settlement today which moves us one step closer to protecting the health and rights of the people of Paramount who have been poisoned in their own homes,” said Michael Green, CEO at CEH. “It is our duty to fight for clean and breathable air for everyone and this settlement will hold Anaplex accountable. There’s still work to be done to continue holding companies like Anaplex accountable and ensuring they don’t backslide, but we will continue fighting to hold them to a higher standard for the protection of the people.”
This is the final agreement reached in a lawsuit filed in 2016 on behalf of local residents against four companies in the area responsible for exposing the community to high levels of hexavalent (hex) chrome without warning. The other three companies in the suit are Aerocraft Heat Treating, Press Forge, and Carlton Forge Works, all under parent company Precision Castparts Auto (majority of shares owned by Warren Buffett). Hex chrome is known to cause cancer, birth defects and damage to the kidneys, lungs, eyes, skin, liver and respiratory system.
In 2016, after years of mounting pressure from community members suffering from numerous health symptoms, local air quality regulators with South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) stepped in to discover that hex chrome was at 350 times the typical level at some monitors. Since then, local activism, increased regulatory oversight, and new air toxics rules have developed in light of this discovery, and have resulted in lower levels of hex chrome from the terrifyingly high number noted by SCAQMD. Despite these improvements however, levels of this heavy metal still remain far above ‘normal or average’ background levels in some areas, based on air data collected across the South Coast Basin. Several of these levels are noted near schools.
California’s air pollution reflects systemic inequities in monitoring and enforcement. Air quality in California cities consistently ranks among the worst in the nation, concentrated predominantly in communities of color, particularly alarming during a global pandemic when a growing body of data shows that Black and Latinx people are twice as likely to die from the coronavirus in part because of exposure to pollution in the air they breathe.
“It’s our and our children’s lungs and our bodies that bear the consequences of these industrial operations in our community,” said Sonia Olmos, teacher and environmental advocate who serves on the Paramount School Board. “We are battling dual crises of environmental pollution and coronavirus. While we are encouraged in this moment, we know we have more work to be done in the fight for justice.”
CEH remains committed to fighting to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment and continues to provide residents of Paramount with resources, including an online pollution tracker, that synthesizes local air regulator data in a user-friendly way so community members can easily access necessary information about hex chrome levels in their neighborhoods.
The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) spearheads bold efforts to fight against companies that knowingly expose individuals, children, and entire communities to life-threatening toxic chemicals. CEH is dedicated to uncovering the truth through cutting-edge research and is passionate about fighting for justice in courtrooms, boardrooms, and in neighborhoods across the country. Our multi-pronged approach uses science, policy, litigation, and purchasing power to create real, tangible wins for public health.