LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The owner and an associate of a now-shuttered Pacoima chrome plating shop are facing multiple criminal counts for allegedly abandoning hundreds of gallons of highly hazardous materials after the facility closed, it was announced.
Victor Luna Rivera Jr., 40, owner of Tec Processing Inc., and his associate Alexander Orantes, 49, were each charged with three counts of illegal disposal of hazardous waste; three counts of improper waste labeling, manifesting, and release of hazardous waste; and one count of failing to remediate hazardous waste releases, according to Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer.
The defendants could face up to a year in jail for each count and fines up to $500,000 for each violation, prosecutors said.
A representative of Tec Processing could not immediately be reached for comment.
“Improperly disposing highly toxic materials poses a serious health risk to our residents and threatens our environment,” Feuer said. “We will continue to hold individuals and businesses accountable if they violate important laws designed to protect the public.”
The site of the company, located within two miles of five schools, allegedly contained five times the legal limit of hexavalent chromium, a known human carcinogen, officials said.
Rivera closed his shop at 11263 Ilex Ave. in May 2014, a year before city health inspectors allegedly observed over a dozen 55-gallon drums filled with an unknown liquid waste, as well as nine plating tanks containing plating solution, Feuer said.
A subsequent joint investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Los Angeles County Fire Department revealed that the facility allegedly had high toxicity levels of hexavalent chrome, more than five times the legal limit, and the owner failed to take proper steps to clean up the site before it was abandoned, officials said.