San Diego

Painters Fined $12,000-Plus for Dumping Toxic Lead Paint into Storm Drain

A CEO of a Riverside County-based painting company and two of his employees pleaded guilty to illegally power washing painted curbs and allowing toxic lead paint chips to flow into storm drains, San Diego City Attorney's Office announced this week.

Luis Ochoa Ramirez, CEO of OCHOA Striping Services, Jose Ochoa and Auder Oliva Gudiel were ordered to pay more than $12,000 in fines and restitution, complete community service and serve three years of probation, City Attorney Mara Elliott said.

Ochoa Striping Services Inc. was hired to sandblast paint from curbs in Del Cerro, but instead, the two employees illegally hooked their equipment to city fire hydrant and using city water to powerwash the curbs.

That released a flow of the toxic paint into the street, gutter and storm drain. Acting a complaint from a resident, the Transportation and Storm Water Division told workers they were improperly disposing of the paint and to immediately take corrective actions.

The workers ignored the warning and returned the next day to continue their work in the same manner. 

City workers took a paint sample to tested it confirmed the presence of lead. Lead paint, when swallowed, even in small amounts, can cause neurological damage in young children. It has been banned for decades but can still be found in older homes and neighborhoods.

"This is an inexcusable assault on the health and safety of those who frequent our beautiful beaches, particularly children who are susceptible to lead poisoning," Elliott said. "We will hold accountable anyone who breaks laws that protect our environment or who puts our children at risk."

Ramirez was fined more than $10,000 and ordered to complete 80 hours of community service. His two employees, Ochoa and Gudiel, was fined more than $1,000 each.

All three were ordered to complete a class on the proper disposal of hazardous waste.

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