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La Mesa

The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District’s board of directors said Thursday it will make a decision Aug. 13 on an appeal by Phoenix Research Corp., a manufacturer of toxic gases that has been denied operating permits by the district.

The firm, owned by Union Carbide Corp., produces arsine and phosphine, each of which are capable of killing a person within minutes of exposure. The firm has operated its La Mesa plant for 13 years at a site populated by 90,000 people within a two-mile area, but has apparently done so safely and without serious incident.

Last December, the Air Pollution Control District’s staff concluded that the company had failed to prove it could guard against danger to the public health in the event of an accidental release of the toxic gases.

The district moved to shut down the plant, but a judge’s order prohibited closure pending the firm’s appeal, a process that has taken several hearings spread over several months and which ended Thursday, when the board of directors heard final oral arguments.

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At the end of Thursday’s hearing the board said it would make a decision on Aug. 13.


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