A federal judge denied a bid by Los Angeles Unified School District Tuesday to hold an emergency hearing to curtail the operations of a salvage and recycling facility that is accused of releasing fumes that may be endangering students and faculty at a nearby high school.
U.S. District Judge George Wu wrote that S&W Atlas Iron & Metal Co., adjacent to Jordan High School in Los Angeles, has apparently been operating “over the course of months, years, and even decades,” so the request for an emergency hearing is inappropriate.
The LAUSD filed a negligence suit in Los Angeles federal court Monday seeking to recover damages and costs incurred in response to what it claims are hazardous substances and waste migrating from the S&W Atlas facility onto the high school site.
A message left with the company after regular business hours was not immediately answered.
The district sought a temporary restraining order requiring Atlas to stop launching alleged “dangerous projectiles and metallic dust” into the Jordan High campus, and abate what it calls “loud noises and vibrations” emanating from the salvage yard.
“Atlas has done little to stop, control, or address the hazardous contamination, accumulated wastewater, toxic fumes and smoke, and noise pollution, among other things, that have emanated, and continue to emanate, from the Atlas site,” the LAUSD alleges.
Jordan High “hosts young students, teachers, employees, staff, and parents, many of whom regularly spend at least eight hours a day at the school,” according to the complaint. “The contamination migrating from the Atlas site is, therefore, of particular concern because of the exposure and risks that it poses to the school site’s sensitive population. The young children who attend Jordan High School are a particularly vulnerable population that is currently being exposed to adverse health conditions created by Atlas’ disregard for the health and safety impacts on the surrounding schools and residences.”
Two of Atlas’ property boundary lines are immediately adjacent to the campus, and a wall separates the two parcels, according to the LAUSD.
In addition, the district alleges that the recycling plant causes “a serious public health hazard by its failure to maintain required drainage to prevent seepage of potentially contaminated water.”
In 2002, an explosion propelled pieces of sharp metal onto the school site, and months later, a second explosion occurred from a live round of a military shell brought to Atlas with other military waste for recycling purposes, the suit contends.
“The shell exploded while being dismantled and shrapnel from the round was propelled over the shared fence onto the school’s athletic field,” the school district alleges.
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