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Accord Reached to Reduce Emissions
from Metal Plating Shopts

May 2, 2003

Following a groundbreaking negotiation process with industry, environmentalists and others, the Southland’s air quality agency today adopted the toughest measures in the nation to significantly reduce toxic emissions from the region’s metal plating facilities.

“These rules will reduce the cancer risk to residents, including those in low-income and minority neighborhoods,” said Barry Wallerstein, executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

AQMD’s Governing Board today unanimously adopted an amendment to the agency’s existing Rule 1469, which limits emissions of the toxic chemical hexavalent chromium from metal plating and anodizing shops.  The Board also adopted a new regulation, Rule 1426, requiring other plating facilities to adopt good operating practices and collect emissions data for two years so that AQMD can evaluate whether additional air pollution controls are needed.

Rule 1469 will affect about 130 chrome plating shops and will reduce hexavalent chromium emissions by 90 percent, making it the toughest such requirement in the nation.  Hexavalent chromium is a potent, known human carcinogen.

Most metal platers are small businesses serving automotive, computer, electronics, defense and industrial equipment industries.  Metal plating shops use electric current to deposit a layer of chrome or other metals on parts to improve their durability and protect them from corrosion.

Facilities will be required to take certain steps to reduce their emissions, such as following good operating practices, using a chemical to reduce hexavalent chromium fumes from plating tanks and in some cases adding high-efficiency particulate filters.  Shops within 25 meters of the nearest residence or 100 meters of the nearest school will face the strictest set of requirements.

The rule will cost the region’s metal plating industry about $2 million a year.

Today’s regulations were adopted following an 18-month process of formal negotiations between AQMD and representatives of metal plating shops, environmental and community groups and other air quality agencies. The successful negotiation process was conducted for the first time as a result of a 2002 Governing Board initiative.

In other action today, the Board:

  • Approved $453,500 to exchange 1,500 gas-powered mowers for non-polluting electric models at two events in Riverside and Orange counties; and
  • Received a status report on a program to develop portable air quality monitors for residents’ use in neighborhoods when air pollution violations or nuisances are suspected.

AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.