Bringing Industrial Sites into the Light
Do you ever find yourself driving through South Central Los Angeles, looking at streets lined by auto dismantlers, scrap metal recyclers, junkyards, waste transfer stations, and industrial sites of all kinds and thinking “I didn’t know there is so much industry in Los Angeles?” In fact, there are literally thousands of such industrial sites in Los Angeles County, many of them discharging pollutants, including bacteria, oil and grease and toxic metals both during storms and in dry weather. These industrial sites should obtain a Clean Water Act permit to discharge into the municipal storm drains and our rivers and creeks. Through our investigations, however, we have been able to discover a number of such facilities who have been discharging without a permit, in some cases for decades.
These facilities typically do not take any measures to control storm water and non-storm water pollution, so their discharges cause a great harm to our waterways. Since 2012 we have been able to force 14 unpermitted industrial sites to obtain a discharge permit through sending citizen notices of violation of the Clean Water Act and explaining their obligation to obtain a permit and comply with its requirements. We have also worked with these sites to develop plans to control storm water and non-storm water pollution control measures. And because obtaining a permit is only the first step in Clean Water Act compliance, we continue monitoring these facilities’ discharges to ensure they do not violate water quality standards. You can learn more about our work and help us monitor such facilities here.
-Tatiana Gaur, Staff Attorney