Markland Industries pleas guilty and pays $350K in fines and penalties

Markland Industries, a company based in Santa Ana, that is involved in the manufacturing of motorcycle parts, plead guilty yesterday to three felony counts yesterday, and agreed to pay $350,000 in fines and penalties for releasing hazardous materials into the environment.

The OC Register covered this story in today’s edition. Here is one excerpt that is of particular interest, “Despite contentions by neighbors that Markland was somehow causing an outbreak of childhood leukemia, a deputy district attorney with the environmental crimes unit said extensive testing showed no evidence of release of cancer-causing materials and no danger to the general public.”

For years, many neighbors in the area adjacent to Markland have complained that the rise in Leukemia cases in that neighborhood was due to Markland’s release of toxics into the environment. However, according to the Register, “While the investigation revealed violations, it did not show any evidence that carcinogenic materials were being released.”

No link between the Leukemia cases and Markland was established. But that is not the end of this story. We need to find out why the City of Santa Ana approved this business for the area it is located in. Why didn’t the Planning Commission ask more questions? Why didn’t the Planning Department follow suit?

We have seen the City of Santa Ana look the other way before. When developer Mike Harrah got in trouble for demolishing a structure in order to make way for his “OBP” tower, this year, residents tried to get the city to intervene, to no avail. They ended up having to get the South Coast Air Quality Management District involved.

Shouldn’t the City of Santa Ana work harder to prevent toxic releases – and to assure the health of its residents? Does this not reflect poorly on the Santa Ana City Manager, Dave Ream, and both the Mayor, Miguel Pulido, and the City Council?

Hopefully the influx of new council members will improve the way the City of Santa Ana deals with new and existing businesses, and will lead to a better vision, which ought to include a stronger emphasis on protecting our environment and our residents.

We will never know if Markland caused all those Leukemia cases – but something did and I find it hard to believe that a bunch of unrelated people suddenly came down with the same disease for purely genetic reasons.

Children paid the price in Santa Ana. Their beds are empty now; their toys are cast aside; their families rent asunder. How many more must die before the City of Santa Ana takes heed? This should serve as our final warning.

I don’t have any confidence that Ream or Pulido are going to suddenly develop an interest in what happens to their constituents, particularly those that are poor immigrants, but I have a lot of faith in some of the council members, especially Claudia Alvarez, who ought to be our new Mayor Pro Tem, and new council members Michele Martinez and Sal Tinajero.

I can only pray that Ward 1 will go to someone who will join these council members in reigning in the Ream administration’s excesses, and holding them accountable when developers and businesspeople try to line their wallets at our expense.

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.