GARDENA — The vice president and co-owner of a metal-plating firm here was sentenced to 30 days in county jail after he pleaded no contest last week to charges of illegally dumping hazardous waste on his company's property and in county sewers.
Richard Granath Jr., vice president and manager of Sonic Plating Co., was sentenced on five misdemeanor counts of violating state and county laws regulating the disposal of hazardous waste. Both Granath and the 20-year-old company pleaded no contest to the charges.
In the complaint filed in South Bay Municipal Court, Granath and the company were accused of dumping hazardous waste containing cyanide and other chemicals on company property at 1930 W. Rosecrans Ave., said Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Diana Bell.
"There were cyanide smudges all over the property," Bell said. "That stuff lying on the ground is potentially very dangerous to life, humans and animals."
Poured Into Sewers
In the four other counts, Granath was charged with releasing contaminated waste water into sewers, potentially endangering the county's sewage treatment system, officials said. Contaminants in the waste water--generated by the metal plating process--included chromium, cyanide and acids, they said.
Granath's jail sentence is about the 15th imposed statewide for hazardous-waste law violations since the first jail term was imposed in 1983, said Barry C. Groveman, special assistant district attorney.
"Environmental crime is a violent crime against the community," Groveman said. "This kind of tough enforcement will, hopefully, turn this kind of problem around."
In addition to the jail sentence, Granath, who was arrested in February and released on bail, was placed on three years' probation and assessed about $8,000 in fines and investigation costs. Bell said she did not know when the jail term will begin.
In an interview last week, Granath said problems at his company have been resolved with the recent installation of a $43,000 water-treatment system, designed to neutralize hazardous waste in waste water before it is discharged into sewers.
The violations "happened in a very slight amount and they have been controlled now," he said. "We have put in all the required equipment. The waste was part of our plating process; we have been trying to control it for years."
The investigation that led to the charges--involving the district attorney's office and the county Health Department and Sanitation Districts--was launched last November, after officials discovered a series of violations of sewer discharge limits for hazardous waste, investigators said. Granath and his company were initially charged with 17 counts of hazardous-waste law violations in February. Twelve of those were dismissed in last week's settlement.