South Bay Sites Land on U.S. Toxic Top-10 List

Three local oil refineries rank among the state's top-10 generators of toxic chemical emissions and other releases, according to a report issued Wednesday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And the South Bay is also home to six of L.A. County's biggest industrial emitters, said the report, which tallies up all the self-reported toxic emissions made in the course of daily business at more than 23,000 facilities around the country, the Daily Breeze reported. The report fulfills the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act to give local areas a picture of industrial output to the environment.


L.A. Tower Gaining Condos
The top half of a 1980s Los Angeles office tower is being converted to condominiums, creating the first hybrid high-rise downtown. A $40-million renovation at 801 S. Grand Ave. will convert 11 floors of office space into 132 condos. The first condos will be completed by the end of the year, said developer Jeff Lee. Units will range in size from 1,000 square feet to 2,100 square feet and prices will run from the mid-$500,000s to $1.3 million, he said. Lee Group grabbed the attention of other developers when 91 units in his Flower Street lofts sold quickly in 2003. The company is developing the Grand Avenue condos with the building's owner, Hollywood-based landlord and developer CIM Group, the Los Angeles Times reported.


12 File Claims in Metrolink Crash
A dozen people, 11 of them survivors of the deadly Glendale railroad crash, filed claims for damages against Metrolink on Wednesday, raising safety questions about the widespread practice of pushing passenger trains from the rear with a locomotive, the Los Angeles Times reported. Attorneys for the 12 say Metrolink could have minimized the damage by placing an engine at the front of the train using methods practiced by other commuter railroads. Metrolink officials have said those configurations are cost-prohibitive, and also that land might be unavailable for new track.


Home Depot Center Gets OK for Major Expansion
The $55 million expansion of the Home Depot Center that will turn the sports complex into a sports community got the green light from California State University officials Wednesday., the Daily Breeze reported. The environmental impact report for the California State University, Dominguez Hills, venue was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees in Long Beach. The Carson complex already has a soccer and tennis stadium, velodrome and track facility. The second phase includes a 200-room hotel and conference center, a 60,000-square-foot training center, a 240-bed dormitory and a 50,000-square-foot field house and restaurant.


NewCom Execs Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison
Two former executives of NewCom Inc., a defunct maker of computer accessories in Westlake Village, were sentenced Wednesday to two years each in federal prison for their roles in a scheme to book fake sales and deceive regulators and investors. NewCom's former chief executive, Sultan W. Khan, and the company's former executive vice president, Asif M. Khan, had asked to be given probation. Authorities said NewCom had reported tens of millions of dollars in fake sales intended to pump up its stock price. When the revenue was later reversed, the market value of NewCom shares plummeted by $140 million, the Los Angeles Times reported.


Centro Watt Completes Purchase of Kramont
Centro Watt, a retail real estate venture between Santa Monica-based Watt Commercial Properties and Centro Properties Group of Australia, has completed the $1.2-billion acquisition of Kramont Realty Trust, the Los Angeles Times reported. Kramont's portfolio of 93 retail centers totaling 12.6 million square feet, mostly in the Northeast, are now held by Centro Watt America, a private real estate investment trust that will be managed by Centro Watt.


L.A. Air Base Closure Could Be Huge Blow
Fear is running high among local officials that the Defense Department on Friday will recommend closing the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, a potentially crippling blow to the regional economy and the high-tech research infrastructure, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The Pentagon is expected to issue a preliminary decision on which of the nation's 425 bases should be closed in cost-cutting moves. Los Angeles AFB is the only Air Force base without a runway, but it houses the brains of a half-century of high-tech military and aerospace experience. The base manages $60 billion in military aerospace contracts.

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