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Simi Valley Forces Firm to Remove Odors

August 17, 1988|SAM ENRIQUEZ | Times Staff Writer

The Simi Valley City Council has given a spa and bathtub manufacturer 70 days to install a filter system to eliminate styrene fumes that neighbors say are making them sick.

The firm, Hydro Systems, agreed to install a charcoal-filtering system, which company officials said will eliminate the strong odors that have drawn complaints from residents since the plant opened in January. Hydro Systems is on Moreland Road near Madera Road.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday night to accept a plan from residents that would restrict the use of odor-producing resins between midnight and 6 a.m. until the air-filtering system is installed. Styrene vapors are emitted in the manufacture of the company's fiberglass products.

The Ventura County Air Pollution Control District, as well as the city, must approve the filter system once it is operating.

The Simi Valley Planning Commission last month suspended the firm's manufacturing permit until the odor problem is solved. The action came after residents testified that the smell was causing nausea and other health problems. That decision was appealed to the City Council, which can revoke the firm's operating license.

"We are delighted," said Larry Burroughs, Hydro Systems' vice president of manufacturing. "We have said all along that we want to solve the problem."

Burroughs said the company will spend about $100,000 to install the charcoal-filtering system. That price is small, he said, compared to the losses that the company and its 60 employees would have suffered had the plant been forced to close.

The Planning Commission, after two days of public hearings last month, found that the company was violating a city ordinance prohibiting "industries in the light industrial zone from producing obnoxious odors" and ordered all styrene operations to cease. The company won a court order to continue operations until the council's final decision.

"The fact that the residents were willing to compromise and live with the company for a couple of months to get the problem solved was the key to the whole thing," Mayor Greg Stratton said.

The city had earlier rejected a plan by Hydro Systems to install three 75-foot-high stacks to disperse the styrene vapors away from nearby residents.

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