Countywide : Supervisors Vote Money for Toxic Disclosure Law

The Orange County Board of Supervisors has approved spending $298,529 to implement an ordinance requiring companies to disclose the hazardous materials they handle.

Supervisors passed the law last October so firefighters would know what to expect when fighting blazes at industrial sites. The money will pay for a hazardous materials program manager, a chemist, fire safety specialists and other staff members, as well as computers.

Officials said the statute will be financed with two new fees on firms that handle such materials. Each company, for example, must list the hazardous materials it handles and pay an annual disclosure fee ranging from $110 to $220, based on the number of chemicals.

Firms must also submit so-called emergency action plans, detailing what they will do in the event of a disaster on their premises, and pay an annual county fee of $157 to $230 based on the quantity of hazardous materials handled.

Supervisors passed the law in the wake of a chemical fire at the Larry Fricker Co. in Anaheim that forced thousands to temporarily evacuate their homes. During the incident, firefighters were hampered because they did not know what chemicals were burning inside.

When they passed the ordinance, which affects Orange County's unincorporated areas, supervisors said they hoped it would be a model for the county's 26 cities. County Fire Chief Larry J. Holms said that 20 of the cities have passed or are about to pass similar or identical measures.

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