Assemblyman Bill Lancaster (R-Covina) introduced legislation last week that would give the South Coast Air Quality Management District the authority to prevent metal-plating plants from locating near hospitals, schools or nursing homes.
Co-authored by Assemblywoman Sally Tanner (D-El Monte), the bill was prompted by the controversy involving Plato Products Inc., a Glendora tool manufacturing firm that has conducted metal-plating operations next to Arma J. Shull Elementary School in San Dimas since 1984.
Although the AQMD was able to require Plato to install air pollution control equipment, air quality officials said they did not have the legal right to shut the plant. Plato officials voluntarily agreed to cease plating operations after a Jan. 7 incident in which acetic acid mist escaped from the plant's nickel-plating equipment, causing 100 schoolchildren to become ill.
The intent of the bill is to avoid similar problems by giving the AQMD the legal power to deny an operating permit to a metal-plating firm if the facility is "in the vicinity" of a school or hospital, said Bill Nunes, an administrative assistant in Lancaster's office.