Cerritos Metal-Plating Firm Fined $500,000 for Illegal Waste Disposal

From a Times Staff Writer

A Cerritos company has been fined $500,000 and placed on probation for three years after pleading no contest to felony charges that it put nickel-laden waste water, which kills plant and animal life, into sewer systems and storm drains.

Three officials of the firm, Transducers Inc., also entered no contest pleas. They were placed on a year's probation and ordered to make restitution of $5,000 each. The men were originally charged with felony counts of illegally disposing hazardous waste but were allowed to plead to misdemeanor charges. They are Robert Fordyce, director of operations; Eric L. Sorensen, chief manufacturing engineer, and Dan Hughes, plating department manager.

The no-contest pleas were entered Tuesday before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dino J. Fulgoni.

Transducers, a manufacturer of parts for electronic weighing scales, was charged in February with three counts of illegal disposal of hazardous waste. Two of the counts against the firm, which had a nickel-plating operation, were for discharging waste directly into the sewer in Cerritos. The firm also was charged with illegal disposal at its former plant in Whittier.

Nickel-toxic waste water is supposed to be taken to a licensed disposal firm. Waste water treatment plants such as the Los Coyotes plant in Cerritos cannot get some toxic metals such as nickel out of waste water, meaning that the metal will flow to the ocean along with the treated water.

The nickel was discovered in Transducers' waste water after spot checks by the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, which periodically monitors industrial sites.

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