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California Briefing / Oxnard

Study largely clears smelter

March 12, 2009|Catherine Saillant

Residents living near a now-closed smelting plant in south Oxnard had a higher incidence of premature births but otherwise showed little other health effects from its operations, a state study has found.

The 240-page assessment by the state Department of Public Health did not find higher incidences of asthma, cancer, birth defects or low-birth-weight babies for people living within a mile of Halaco Engineering Co.

But it found that emissions from the operation, including lead, arsenic, copper and zinc, may have contributed to a rise in the number of premature babies born in homes within a mile of the coastal plant.

The study could not say for certain that Halaco's operations caused the pre-term births, however, because archival data on emissions releases and health records were not available.

Halaco recycled metals from 1965 to 2004. After repeated violations of its permits, the company closed in 2004. In 2007, it was named a federal Superfund site.

-- Catherine Saillant

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