THE POISONING OF BARRIO LOGAN
Despite a court order issued in march telling the Master Plating Company in San Diego to cease its chrome-plating operations, at a community meeting last night officials told those in attendance that high levels of cancer causing chromium are persisting around the plant. Residents have been complaining and protesting about the plant in their neighborhood for a decade. Testing in recent months for the widely known carcinogen has revealed that dust at the plant has spread outside – even though the company has presumably stopped its chrome plating. "There is dust within the facility that is laden with hexavalent chromium," said Linda Murchinson, an official with the California Air Resources Board. State officials in December detected Chromium 6 near the plant at levels among the highest found anywhere in the state during the past 10 years, Murchinson said.
Master Plating is a metal plating shop located in a residential area of Barrio Logan, within a few feet of the nearest home. Barrio Logan is plagued by mixed land-use zoning that allows polluting industries to be located near and even next to residences. Master Plating has been poisoning its neighbors for years. More than 29,000 pounds of hazardous chemicals are stored at Master Plating each year. During one 6 year period the company was cited for more than 150 environmental and health violations including illegal dumping of hazardous waste and improper storage of toxic chemicals. In addition, the place is a disaster waiting to happen. The potential of a fire, spill, or chemical release is a substantial concern with the close proximity of these 29,000 pounds of chemicals to families and children. For example, a spill of acid on a ten- pound block of cyanide would result in hydrogen cyanide gas. A highly dangerous level of this gas would extend for six blocks downwind, which would be an immediate danger to life and health.
Earlier this year it was revealed that levels of chrome-6 detected were up to 28 times higher than typical levels detected in large urban areas. Nearby resident Michael Marinez commented, "If this were happening in a neighborhood like Point Loma or La Jolla, it would have been taken care of immediately." A demonstration earlier this year called for the immediate shutdown of Master Plating and another nearby operation. At that time Paula Forbis of the Environmental Health Coalition said, "Residents have waited for more than a decade for action to be taken to eliminate these toxics from their neighborhoods. How many children have been harmed in that decade while local officials continued to study the problem?" Apparently the waiting and the harm continues.
Sources: San Diego Earth Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, Environmental Health Coalition
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