After the Los Angeles Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to revoke the industrial-waste dumping permit of a Northridge manufacturer, city workers did not wait long to make sure the company stopped pouring waste into city sewers. Within two hours, a city maintenance crew was at the plant, capping its sewer connection.
At a hearing Wednesday morning, the board also ordered the company, Lai Circuits Inc., a circuit board manufacturer, to reimburse the city for the cost of investigating the company and repairing two manholes allegedly damaged by corrosive chemicals it discharged.
A multiagency environmental task force raided the plant at 8741 Darby St. on Dec. 19 and cited Lai Circuits for dumping high concentrations of heavy metals and acids, including copper and lead, into city sewers.
During the raid, investigators found a "bootleg pipe" that may have been used to dump waste directly into the sewer, according to the city attorney's office.
Monitoring by Bureau of Sanitation investigators after the raid uncovered two additional violations, bureau officials said.
San Lai, owner of Lai Circuits, faces possible criminal prosecution for the discharge violations, Deputy City Atty. Gwendolyn Irby said.
Owner's Request Denied
Lai did not attend Tuesday's hearing, but his attorney asked that the business be allowed to operate for four to five weeks to fill a backlog of orders and avoid a $60,000 loss. After that, Lai plans to close the company, attorney Stephen C. Jones said.
But the board unanimously rejected the request.
"There is nothing to lead us to believe that this operation can open within the standards that the city has set," board President Maureen Kindel said.
Although some violators are allowed to seal off their connection to city sewers on their own to save the city the cost of severing the lines, Lai Circuits was denied that option.
"I don't even have faith that they will cap the sewer now," Kindel said before voting to have the sewer connections capped immediately.
City officials said it was not the first time they have quickly cut off a polluter's access to sewers. From 1982 to 1985, 11 of about 7,500 companies with city waste discharge permits had their access to city sewers severed, board spokeswoman Anna Sklar said.
Although Lai Circuits is prohibited from using city sewers, it still has the option of renting a storage tank and having a registered hauling company dispose of its waste, said J. Malcolm Toy, senior engineer for the sanitation bureau.
Lai could not be reached for comment.
Some workers at businesses near Lai Circuits complained that the board's action came too late.
"It doesn't help us all," said Rebeca Wickliff, a secretary at Tangliere Co., a real estate appraising firm. "We've been exposed to the chemicals for at least a year."
John Muldoon, a partner at another real estate appraisal firm, Angelus Appraisal, which shares a wall with Lai Circuits, said employees there sometimes complained of headaches and burning eyes from fumes emitted by the manufacturer.