By KCAL/KCBS Staff
LOS ANGELES (KCAL, KCBS) — Neighbors, parents and students in Watts gathered Tuesday night to call for the closing or at least the relocation of a recycling facility accused of sending shrapnel into a school next door.
“It’s time for them to get the hell out of Watts,” said one resident.
The company drawing the ire of many residents is S&W Atlas Iron and Metal Company, also known as Atlas Metals. The scrap metal recycling facility sits next door to Jordan High School, home to 1,000 Watts students. Community members claim that the facility has sent shrapnel onto the school’s campus and has exposed students to toxic chemicals.
According to the Los Angeles Unified School District, there are dangerous levels of lead and other metals on the campus amounting to 75 times higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency defines as hazardous.
“Regularly emits toxic fumes. Ejects shrapnel onto the campus next door, Jordan High School — sometimes live munitions — all posing a severe risk to kids trying to get a decent education,” the same resident said.
Jordan High School senior Genesis said many students thought it was normal to have a recycling plant next door. She thought it was normal to find shrapnel on campus.
“I would always see Atlas and they would always be moving stuff around,” she said. “I never really thought to think ‘What is this doing here?'”
With that thought in mind, Genesis began to think about how simply attending high school would impact her health later in life.
“I was there throughout the whole time, drinking off of the water fountain like any other kid, especially after PE when they had us running on the track,” she said. “We can’t keep letting these corporate organizations or industrial organizations belittle us just because were from Watts.”
Navaline Smith talked about her experiences living in Ujima Village which was built on an abandoned oil storage yard. Ujima Village was a housing complex shut down after Los Angeles County officials discovered it was contaminated with hazardous material.
“My daughter, she has tumors in her throat,” she said. “She had three operations.”
Scientists are now studying the impact Atlas Metals may have on residents because they don’t want what happened at Ujima Village to happen to students at Jordan High School.
“There’s no reason why a metal recycling plant that’s already been cited for violations of submitting hazardous wastes to a community should continue to exist next to it,” said one speaker.
LAUSD has filed a lawsuit against Atlas Metals. The recycling facility has not responded to requests for comment.
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