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The week ahead

June 30, 2008|Deborah Schoch;Janet Wilson

A look at upcoming events:

Wednesday

Affordable housing: Volunteers will begin framing houses in the Calle Rolando neighborhood of San Juan Capistrano for disabled veterans and low-income families under the Habitat for Humanity program of building affordable housing.

Friday

USO benefit: "A Concert for the Troops," helping Los Angeles-based USO centers, will be held at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. More than 1,000 military people will attend the concert, which will be shown on tape-delay to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Tip

With the onset of summer road repairs, you're likely to encounter freeway traffic snarls when you least expect them. A familiar on-ramp may be shut for resurfacing or the Golden State Freeway may lose a lane as crews rip out dead ice plant.

Now, Caltrans promises that you can zoom in on real-time traffic via a new, free cellphone service linked to more than 270 freeway cameras in four area counties. You can even program your phone so that a single key pulls up your daily commuting route.

Drivers should do their research before hitting the road because of the law mandating hands-free use of cellphones that takes effect Tuesday, say officials at Caltrans, which has launched the service with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and NBC-TV Channel 4. To download the service, call (877) 622-5204.

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-- Deborah Schoch

Ask a Reporter

Southern California air quality regulators recently charged a Riverside County cement plant with allowing toxic dust to blow off-site. What's happened since?

TXI Riverside Cement Co. has signed a settlement deal with air quality regulators that will cost the company $1 million but that allows it to avoid admitting whether hexavalent chromium emissions blowing from the direction of its large, outdoor dust piles actually came from those piles.

Hexavalent chromium is a potent carcinogen, and levels an average of 10 times higher than normal were detected blowing over homes and businesses near the huge plant.

South Coast Air Quality Management officials said their investigators determined that the source was the piles and in April they cited the plant's owners for violations.

But a recently signed document released both sides from liability. TXI officials have agreed not to add dust to the piles, which are used to make concrete. They also agreed to cover the piles within 30 days and clean up the material by Nov. 30.

TXI agreed to pay the AQMD $400,000 in penalties and $200,000 to partially cover the agency's investigation expenses.

They also agreed to spend $400,000 on new or upgraded equipment.

The agency was criticized by area residents for failing to notify the public more promptly about the toxic dust.

On June 9, the regional water board also sent a notice of violation to TXI after finding trace amounts of pollutants in runoff at the site.

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-- Janet Wilson

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