Paramount metal finishing company Aerocraft Heat Treating Co., Inc., has temporarily shut down all operations emitting the toxic compound hexavalent chromium to comply with an administrative order designed to protect public health, the South Coast Air Quality Management District announced late Thursday.

Aerocraft, at 15701 Minnesota Ave., shut down all equipment with the potential to emit hexavalent chromium - the same compound that was at the center of the famous Erin Brockovich case involving Pacific Gas & Electric - after air district monitors recorded levels of the compound above a trigger threshold of one nanogram (billionth of a gram) per cubic meter. The threshold, agreed to by Aerocraft, was specified in an administrative order adopted last month by the district’s hearing board.

“This order is working just as intended by preventing the facility from emitting potentially harmful levels of this toxic compound,” said Wayne Nastri, the district’s executive officer. “Aerocraft will not be able to resume operations until SCAQMD monitoring data shows that hexavalent chromium levels have dropped below the level specified in the order.”

Aerocraft executives could not be reached early Thursday evening. But in a Dec. 2 letter to a deputy health officer with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Aerocraft General Manager Greg Stonick outlined the steps Aerocraft has taken to curb hexavalent chromium emissions.

“The air district has noted that Aerocraft is not the only potential source of hexavalent chromium in our community,” Stonick said in the letter. “However, that is no reason for us to diminish our response….Aerocraft has implemented multiple actions to minimize our potential to emit hexavalent chromium.”

The air district has also singled out another Paramount metal plating company, Anaplex Corp., as a likely source of hexavalent chromium. Both companies became the focus after district monitoring found elevated levels of the toxic compound at many locations around Paramount.

On Jan. 10, Anaplex was ordered by the district’s hearing board to cut its hexavalent chromium emissions to below 1 nanogram per cubic meter or face a shutdown similar to Aerocraft.

Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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