According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you might have been exposed to some improperly stored hazardous wastes at nearby metal-plating facility Crown Chrome Plating. Nasty stuff.
Mimi Newton, assistant regional counsel for the EPA, says she doesn't know what went on at the shop before the inspection date, but thinks "it would be a coincidence if the one day our inspectors showed up was the one day" they screwed up.
Here are the plant's violations, which are now costing their parent company, TMW Corporation, $100,000:
- Storage of hazardous waste for over 90 days without a permit
- Failure to conduct required inspections
- Failure to train personnel or maintain training records
- Failure to maintain required emergency communications equipment
- Failure to make a hazardous waste determination
And as for the specific toxins that could have seeped into the ground or evaporated into the air due to this negligence: "paint wastes, alkaline and acidic corrosive liquids, and sludges containing heavy metals [cadmium, chromuim and lead]."
The manager of Crown Chrome Plating, who won't tell us her name, says she cannot tell us anything about the failed inspection. She says she doesn't know how to contact the owner, whose name she likewise cannot reveal because that is "personal company information."
The facility is nestled between the busy Van Nuys Boulevard, rows of nearby homes, Panorama High School and a recreation spot called Blythe Street Park. The EPA approximates that 136,000 residents live in the area. Mission Community Hospital is located less than a mile away.
Newton says Crown staff hadn't been conducting inspections "to make sure wastes were being stored properly," and a couple containers of toxic sludge had been kept way over the 90-day limit.
On a larger scale, findings like these "show that you're not properly managing the waste," she says, "which could lead to releases of hazardous waste." The EPA considers anything but the "utmost care" when dealing with such chemicals to pose a danger to employees, the community and the surrounding environment.
According to Newton, the company has provided evidence, since the April 2009 inspection gone awry, that they've changed their ways.
But for the paranoid, plugging one's nose as one rolls through the Van Nuys Amtrak Station certainly wouldn't hurt.