Ten years after the community protest began, an announcement of a local chrome-plating factory’s shut down was made as the crowd cheered.
The now defunct factory, Palace Plating at 710 E. 29th St., operated across from 28th Street Elementary School. Community members said they feared the factory affected the health of the children who attended the school and lived in the surrounding neighborhood.
Councilwoman Jan Perry and the United Teachers Los Angeles joined members of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Monday to express their feelings about the closure.
“It is a new day on 29th street,” said Perry in English and Spanish as the crowd cheered.
Perry thanked organizations and previous city representatives for their efforts as well.
Patricia Bilgin, assistant city attorney of the Environmental Protection Unit, said the business had been investigated a couple of times before the closure.
In 2004, the establishment’s owner was prosecuted for emitting various hazardous chemicals and was fined for the cause. A couple of years later, the city conducted an investigation to track factory operations and found chemicals were diluting into the nearby school’s premises.
At the news conference, Martha Sanchez, ACCE member and local resident, read some of the names of teachers of the nearby school who were part of the fight in removing the factory, but died before the closure — some from cancer.
“It (the battle) was for them. Our kids deserve a quality of life and better opportunities,” said Sanchez, who has had three children enrolled at the school.
Gonzalo Romero, 17, son of Sanchez, attended the elementary school while the factory operated.
He said he was too young to be aware of what was going on. Although, he did not develop any health complications that might have derived the chemicals, he said he noticed wounds from the playground were slow to heal and left him with scars.
Maria Gomez, parent and one of the initial organizers against Palace Plating, said she was grateful for the community support, but understands that issues remain to be solved in the area.
“The fight continues and we will keep fighting to keep our communities safe,” said Gomez.
The factory building will make way for a possible community recreation center, said Eva Kandarpa Behrend, communications director for Jan Perry.