The sewer line of a Brea metal-plating firm was capped Wednesday after two businessmen allegedly resumed illegal dumping of toxic chemicals one day after they were arrested for repeated illegal discharges, Orange County sanitation officials said.
Officials said they disconnected the sewer line of S & B Plating & Metal Finishing Inc., because four illegal discharges were detected coming from the industrial complex since the arrests last week of company officials Vinod S. Shah, 47, and Narendra J. Shah, 39.
The two men were arrested by Brea police Oct. 29 and charged with 54 misdemeanor violations for illegal discharge of hazardous chemicals from the metal-plating company between July and August in violation of state law. They were released the same day on $3,000 bond each.
"When we arrested them last week, they were discharging the next day," Blake Anderson, operations director for the Orange County Sanitation Districts, said. "They continued to discharge Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday."
Instead of filing additional criminal charges, they decided to plug the sewer line in an effort to stop the illegal dumping once and for all, Anderson said. A metal plate was bolted across a six-inch pipe to prevent discharges into the sewer system.
"The industrial community needs to be informed that this kind of discharge will not be tolerated," said Richard W. von Langen, chief of the sanitation districts' industrial waste division during an informal press conference at the site in the 500 block of Apollo Street.
Neither Vinod Shah of Fullerton nor Narendra Shah of Yorba Linda could be reached for comment Wednesday.
But Barry A. Bisson, an attorney for Vinod Shah, denied Wednesday that Shah had dumped any chemicals into the sewer system either before or after his arrest, and he termed the criminal charges against his client "utterly baseless."
"Why would someone who has criminal charges against them add to the pile? You'd have to be utterly stupid, and Mr. Shah is not a stupid man," Bisson said.
Described as Harassment
Bisson claimed that the sanitation districts' actions were designed to "harass" Vinod Shah because he is fighting a civil lawsuit lodged against him for complaints of repeated illegal discharges at his previous business, Aero Tech Plating Inc. of Anaheim.
A laboratory analysis of waste water from the Brea firm showed levels of zinc at more than 800 times the limit set by the county's industrial waste ordinance, cadmium at 500 times the allowable limit, chromium at 120 times the allowable limit and copper at nearly 30 times the allowable limit, officials said.
Prolonged skin contact with chromium has been linked to cancer, and cadmium is a carcinogen when ingested, but the chemicals allegedly discharged by S & B did not pose a public hazard since they remained in the sewer system, Corinne Clawson, a spokeswoman for the districts said.
The highly acidic chemicals were believed to have entered the sewer through rinse tanks inside the firm, she said.
A cease-and-desist order was filed against S & B in August, but the company continued the illegal discharge six times in September, Clawson said. S & B's discharge permit was revoked Oct. 23, but the illegal dumping still continued, she said.
"It's because of the flagrant abuse that we felt we needed to take such drastic action," Clawson said Wednesday.
If convicted on the criminal charges, each man could be sentenced to six months in jail and the company fined up to $296,500, Clawson said.
Bisson said Vinod Shah closed the firm after his arrest and had vacated the premises by Tuesday night. He said Shah did not plan on reopening the metal-plating firm at its present site.