Plato Products Inc. has received permission from the South Coast Air Quality Management District to build a new plant for its soldering-tip manufacturing operation in the City of Industry, a spokeswoman for the air pollution control district said this week.
Earlier this year, Plato agreed to cease most of its metal-plating operations at its plant in Glendora by Sept. 1. On Jan. 7, acetic acid mist from the plant's nickel-plating process escaped through an open door and caused about 100 children at an adjacent San Dimas elementary school to become ill.
Although the students' symptoms--which included headaches, nausea and respiratory problems--were mild and short-lived, the incident proved to be the turning point in Plato's tumultuous tenure in Glendora. Neighbors had complained since the plant opened in 1984 that it was emitting excessive amounts of hexavalent chromium, a known human carcinogen.
Last year, AQMD tests disclosed that the plant was emitting hexavalent chromium in concentrations that would cause more than 10 additional cancer cases for each million people exposed. The maximum cancer risk allowed by the AQMD is one additional case per million. Plato was granted a conditional operating permit after it promised to upgrade its filtering system.
AQMD spokeswoman Jacqueline Switzer said the site of Plato's new plant is in a heavy industrial area, more than half a mile from the nearest school. The firm has pledged to install pollution-control equipment, which will reduce the cancer risk from the plant's emissions to one additional case for each 3 million people exposed, she said.
Plato officials did not return phone calls.