Navy and County Air Quality Officials Agree on Paint Abatement Order

Times Staff Writer

The Navy and county air quality authorities have reached agreement on an abatement order that requires the Navy to stop using paints and other coatings that violate state air pollution standards on its aircraft, aerospace equipment and miscellaneous metal parts it was announced Thursday.

The agreement--called a stipulated abatement order--mandates that the Navy be in full compliance by the end of next year, either by using new paints and coatings or through the installation of emission control devices.

All of the Navy’s bases in the county are covered by the order, signed by Rear Adm. Bruce Boland, San Diego’s naval commander, and Richard J. Sommerville, air pollution control officer for the county Air Pollution Control District. Paint and coatings used on ships are not covered by the order.


The agreement also covers work done for the Navy by contractors in the county. For example, both General Dynamics and Rohr Industries do work for the Navy involving painting.

The bases most affected by the agreement are the naval air stations at North Island and Miramar, where painting is done on aircraft and ground support equipment, according to Navy officials.

Result of Long Dispute

The agreement is the result of a years-long dispute in which the Air Pollution Control District has been after the Navy to stop violating state air pollution emission standards through its widespread use of paints that emit reactive hydrocarbons--the principal component of smog.

The Navy, according to air quality officials, is the county’s second-largest air polluter, generating 5% of the county’s industrial pollution. First is San Diego Gas & Electric, which produces 25%.

In 1979, air pollution control districts throughout California adopted rules barring use of the smog-producing paints. The rules were part of the state’s response to tougher air standards ushered in by the federal Clear Air Act.

For the past eight years, the district granted the Navy several extensions and variances, with the intent of giving the Navy more time to adjust to the stricter regulations, even though industries using similar paints have been able to meet the standards.


Lack of Progress

The Navy’s lack of progress forced the district to seek enforcement action, including the use of penalties. The order signed by Boland on Tuesday stipulates that penalties are still possible if terms of the agreement are violated.

Negotiations between the Navy and the district occurred over several months. The Navy last month said its tests of new paints were yielding positive results.

The agreement states that after Dec. 31, 1988, in the event the Navy is unable to develop or have available proper paint and coatings, the Navy will either have to stop using the outlawed coatings or ensure that proper emission control devices are in place.

Between now and the end of next year, the Navy must follow a schedule that, among other things, requires it to survey all its painting operations in the county, identify which facilities will need emission control equipment and contact and monitor its prime contractors and subcontractors.

To ensure compliance, the Navy agreed to report in writing to the district every six weeks details of its progress to meet the abatement order.