State confirms public health hazard

provided by Environmental Health Coalition

Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) and Barrio Logan residents called for the immediate shutdown of polluting operations at two facilities in the Barrio Logan area. The operations pose a public health hazard due to high levels of hexavalent chromium emitted by chrome plating and other operations. Hexavalent chromium is a toxic air pollutant that can increase the risk of cancer even at very low levels.

    EHC's demands resulted from a notice issued by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the San Diego Air Pollution Control District on Jan. 30 that showed high levels of hexavalent chromium were detected near the Carlson & Beauloye and Master Plating facilities located in Barrio Logan. Levels of hexavalent chromium detected during the ARB's chromium monitoring program conducted in December 2001 were up to 28 times higher than typical levels detected in large urban areas. The samples were collected at six residential locations within 200 feet of the facilities.

    “These results are alarmingly high and validate the community's belief that there is a real public heath hazard from these operations in Barrio Logan,” said Paula Forbis, Co-Director of EHC's Toxic-Free Neighborhoods Campaign. “We are calling on local officials to take immediate action to shut down these operations. 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?”

    The highest levels were found in the front and back of a residence located between the two plating facilities. Zoning regulations for Barrio Logan allow industries and residences to exist side by side.

    “If this were happening in a neighborhood like Point Loma or La Jolla, it would have been taken care of immediately. We're treated as second class. We have had to live with this zoning and we are suffering the consequences,” said Michael Martinez, a Barrio Logan resident whose home is located between the two plating facilities. “Maybe things will change now that the testing has confirmed what we suspected all along. Maybe now people will pay attention to the problem.”

    Barrio Logan residents have long asserted that the chrome plating operations located in their neighborhood posed serious health risks. In 1990, EHC and local residents proposed a “buffer zone” ordinance, which would have required that industries using or storing large quantities of hazardous materials be separated from residential uses. As a result, the San Diego City Council formed a multi-agency hazardous material task force, which recommended that plating operations be relocated from residential areas. In November 1994, the Transportation and Land Use Committee of the City Council voted unanimously in favor of the recommendation. However, since that time, none of the plating shops has been relocated.

    Under California law, the local Air Pollution Control Board, which in San Diego County is the County Board of Supervisors, can issue an abatement order or revoke operating permits for any source that endangers the health and safety of the public.

    For current information, please contact Environmental Health Coalition, (619) 235-0281;