Officials from the the chemical division of Unocal Corp. apologized to a group of 250 homeowners last week for the release of sulfur dioxide fumes at the company's sulfuric acid plant in the 1400 block of West Anaheim Street.
The gas leak about 6 p.m. on July 14 occurred in the plant's preheater, which officials said is used two or three times a year to start the chemical reaction at the plant. The plant had been shut down to install boiler equipment, said Charles F. Merrill of Unocal.
Merrill told the crowd at the Banning Park Recreation Center that some tubes in the preheater failed, causing sulfur dioxide to escape. He said a test valve has been added to detect future leaks, and said a new preheater will be installed. The plant has been operating since the leak without any problems, a company spokesman said.
"We are terribly sorry for what happened," Merrill said. "We want to continue to be a good neighbor."
Unocal could face $2,000 in fines from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, a district spokesman said this week. Unocal was cited for causing a public nuisance and failing to notify the district of the leak. Unocal officials said they did not know of the leak until firefighters arrived after being called by area residents.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department said 26 residents and 14 firefighters were treated for respiratory problems. Merrill said residents who required medical treatment can contact Unocal about reimbursement for expenses by calling (800) 432-3080.