Originally posted at 2:01 p.m. April 1, 2014. Edited to add new details.
The Southland's air-quality management agency announced today it is seeking an order to require a Newport Beach company to reduce toxic emissions.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District will seek an order from its independent hearing board to require Hixson Metal Finishing, a chrome plating and anodizing facility, to reduce emissions of a pollutant called hexavalent chromium, agency spokesman Sam Atwood said.
Hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, is released during the metal plating and finishing process, Atwood said.
"Hixson has taken steps in the past to reduce its emissions, however, more work needs to be done," said Barry Wallerstein, the agency's executive director. "Additional pollution controls will be required quickly."
The agency has been monitoring the emission of the compound for several years near the company's plant at 817-853 Production Place, Atwood said.
Based on measurements in 2012 and 2013, and assuming a 70-year exposure, the cancer risk at the neighboring Newport Villa carport ranges from 330 to 375 in 1 million, according to Atwood.
The agency has been monitoring the area around the plant for nearly a decade, but it wasn't until 2011 when a "spike" in chromium was observed, said Mohsen Nazemi, deputy executive director of the agency.
The company has been "very cooperative," Nazemi said.
Newport Beach in general has about half the average pollution in the Southland, Nazemi said.
Hixson President Douglas C. Greene said the company's executives are not sure if the plant is the sole source of the emissions, but they wish to cooperate with the regulators anyway.
"We've been actually working with AQMD to find the source of these emissions in the neighborhood for quite some time. It's one of those issues that's fairly perplexing," Greene told City News Service.
Hixson is a "likely source" of the emissions, so the company wants to help reduce them, Greene said, adding "several hundreds of thousands of dollars" have been spent over the years on upgrades suggested by the agency.
"We're on the same team as them. If they have an issue we have an issue," Greene said. "We recognize and understand they have a serious job to do and we support that."
The company is on the city's west side in one of its few areas zoned for industrial businesses, City Manager Dave Kiff said.
City inspectors have "generally found" the company to be in compliance with city codes "with relatively minor corrections needed and noted," Kiff said.
The city manager noted that Hixson executives suspect "some of this contamination has occurred from past operations at the site (unrelated to Hixson's current operations) as well as some migrating from other properties."
--City News Service