Iron Triangle company shuttered over hazardous waste
on November 18, 2014
A Richmond metal plating company was shut down by a court order last week, granting a request by California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).
A March 2014 injunction required Electro-Forming Co. and its owner, Marion Patigler, to refrain from violating hazardous waste laws they were already convicted of, but an inspection in August found that she neglected the order.
The company had previously been cited for 16 different health and safety violations at its 130 Nevin Ave. location.
Located in the west end of the Iron Triangle, Electro-Forming, Co. is responsible for a laundry list of hazardous waste violations that put employees and neighbors at risk, according to a DTSC news release. Allegations range from improper waste disposal to the leaking of hazardous waste onto Nevin Avenue.
In 1992, a tank rupture at the company’s Richmond facility caused the release nitric acid into the air, sending over a hundred local residents to hospital.
The DTSC announced the shutdown after releasing a damning report of the small manufacturing facility, which is located just blocks from the Nevin Community Center and an adjoining park.
“Over the past year this company has failed multiple times to comply with the rules that protect the neighborhood surrounding the facility,” Reed Sato, DTSC Chief Counsel, said in a press release.
The shutdown comes seven months after the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office separately charged Electro-Forming, Co. and Patigler with 11 felonies and 12 misdemeanors.
The hazards came to light when a former employee complained last year of questionable safety conditions at the property. The DTSC determined that the company was a hazard beyond its property line.
“This injunction demonstrates DTSC’s commitment to protect vulnerable communities from illegal hazardous waste management activities which materially threaten public health and safety,” Sato said.
According to the report, the careless dumping of chemical solutions into a storage tank could have released hydrogen cyanide gas, which is highly toxic and potentially lethal.
According to the International Cyanide Management Institute, “inhalation of 2,000 parts per million hydrogen cyanide causes death within one minute.”
One tank on Electro-Forming’s property contained over 2,500 parts per million.
A former employee claimed that Patigler ordered him to put potentially-toxic solutions in “kiddie pools” and allow it evaporate, instead of disposing of the waste at the proper facilities.
When Patigler did dispose of it, she apparently put volatile chemicals very close to each other, transported them well over the weight limit and failed to dispose of them at government-sanctioned locations.
This is not the first time that Patigler has been cited by regulatory agencies. In 2001, she and her father were charged with several misdemeanor hazardous waste violations at a Hayward facility. Also, a 2010 whistleblower complaint at a plant owned by Patigler in Bettendorf, Iowa, prompted another investigation and subsequent remediation.
Patigler will be required to begin removing all hazardous waste within five days. The judge also has recommended either a temporary or permanent injunction forbidding her from handling hazardous waste in the future.
Electroforming is a type of metal component fabrication that involves the creation of molds using electricity. The metallurgical process is popular among jewelry and trinket-makers.
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