EPA honors Clovis plating company for 'extreme makeover'

A Clovis, Calif. chrome plating company has won recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for efforts to clean up and change the way it does business.

Valley Chrome Plating substituted lead anodes and hexavalent chromium with the less harmful alternative of graphite and trivalent chromium. EPA officials say the switch reduced "harmful chemicals by 9,000 pounds — significantly protecting the environment and worker exposure."

It's "kind of an extreme makeover plating edition," says James Galvan, Valley Chrome's plating supervisor. "We get a lot of 'wows.'"

The company also was recognized by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, which says Valley Chrome is on its way to becoming a national leader for its chemistry substitution.

While Valley Chrome didn't institute energy efficiency savings or install renewable energy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, it did pull off something at least as significant by making environmentally responsible changes that also benefit the company's bottom line.

"We're actually saving money being greener," says Ray Lucas, owner. "It makes perfect sense environmentally and financially."

Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, put it this way: "This is a great example of how a company can protect its employees and the environment while growing its business and providing important local jobs."

Blumenfeld visited the San Joaquin Valley, making Valley Chrome one of his stops on a two-day “Whistle Stop Tour." He also also visited California State University, Fresno to tour the Center for Irrigation Technology's state-of-the-art hydraulics lab. His mission was to discuss efforts within the industry to create jobs and talk with students about the campus organic farm. The agenda included a forum on drinking water issues in rural communities.

Green chemistry is intertwined with clean energy, water conservation and sustainability. The movement by U.S. businesses adopting such measures is gaining momentum on a monthly basis. Net-zero impact, which had near-zero proponents among the Wall Street set just five or 10 years ago, is getting a closer and tangible look by companies across the nation, especially because many of the measures simply make sense and save money.