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Vernon Orders Cleanup of Flammable Hazardous Waste

Citing public safety concerns, Vernon health and environment officials ordered a local manufacturer and chemical blender to immediately cleanup improperly stored drums filled with flammable hazardous waste, the city announced last June 14 in a written statement.

The order comes following a two-month investigation by Vernon’s Health and Environmental Control Department (VHEC) into allegations that Four Star Chemical had failed to safely handle, manage and dispose of the materials, creating an “imminent and substantial endangerment to public health and safety.”

Vernon officials allege Four Star Chemical (pictured in the background) has violated California hazardous waste statutes. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

“Serious violations” of California’s hazardous materials monitoring and control statutes were found during an onsite code enforcement inspection of the facility on 26th Street, officials said.

The discovery that hazardous substance was being improperly stored in drums on the property prompted VHEC officials, in cooperation with Vernon’s Fire Marshal, to take enforcement action against Four Star Chemical, ordering the company to immediately safely remove and properly dispose of hazardous substances found at the site.

Calls to Four Star Chemical were not returned.

The enforcement action comes on the heels of the closure by state toxic substance control officials of another Vernon company accused of creating a public health hazard. Battery manufacturer and recycler Exide Technologies was shut down when it was found to be releasing higher than allowed levels of lead and arsenic into the air and soil, potentially raising the cancer risk to people living and working in Vernon and several nearby communities, including Boyle Heights, Commerce, Maywood and Huntington Park. In that case, Vernon officials called on state regulators to step in and take action against Exide, which has operated for more than three decades in the industrial city on an interim permit.

On Monday, Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin lifted the state’s toxics management agency suspension of operations order pending an upcoming hearing.

Four Star Chemical must be in compliance by June 28, according to Vernon officials.