Federal health inspectors have cited the Navy for exposing hundreds of its personnel to toxic materials at a maintenance facility near San Diego, according to the Associated Press.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found traces of lead, cadmium and beryllium in food storage and dining areas at the Coronado facility, which is part of the Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center Southwest and repairs F-18 fighter jets.
OSHA cited the Navy for 21 “serious violations” -- meaning there is a substantial probability of death or serious physical harm from a preventable problem -- after conducting three inspections in 2011.
"Exposing workers to metals such as lead, cadmium and beryllium can result in serious illness and even fatal respiratory disease," Jay Vicory, OSHA’s San Diego office director, told AP. "We are encouraged by the Department of the Navy's response to OSHA's intervention, and we are working cooperatively with that department to further mitigate the hazards uncovered."
Michael Furlano, a Navy spokesman, told AP that facility personnel are working to resolve the problem and the dining areas have been temporarily closed.
"Obviously, we're committed to the safety of our personnel and we're not going to take this lightly," he said.
Furlano told Government Executive the facility will undergo an industrial cleaning to rid it of lead and beryllium, while dry sweeping that allows cadmium -- which prevents aircraft steel from corroding -- to permeate the air will no longer be practiced.
OSHA was alerted to the issue by employees at the facility. The agency will recommend the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health -- part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- assess the site.