Industrial waste inspectors may not be the most popular people with local businesses. And then there’s Jason Finn, Waste Inspector II with the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts. “We are the face of the Districts to many of our dischargers,” he says. “We try to be authoritative, but in a symbiotic kind of way. We have the ability to fine but I’d rather not go that route.” Rather, he says, it’s trying to get people to come around and see the reason for the regulations. Finn hails from Kern County and after a degree in medical microbiology from Cal State Long Beach, he joined LACSD in 2002 as a lab technician. In 2011 he took the opportunity to become part of the industrial waste inspection staff. “It seemed interesting,” he says, “and it was an opportunity to apply my laboratory skills to a different field.”
LACSD encompasses business and industry all the way from Long Beach to Santa Clarita. “We have the highest number of EPA categorical facilities of any district in the country,” Finn says.
Finn enjoys that variety in accounts, and the opportunities to help industries comply. “Some of our facilities have both a daily maximum limit discharge and a monthly average that is significantly lower. They’ll be taking one sample a month and failing the monthly average, so we’ve educated quite a few on the need to take more than one sample.”
Finn might work with a small facility to come up with a plan of action for color, pH, or biological oxygen demand (BOD). Or explain the environmental impact of rinse water at a plating shop. Or help a facility conserve water. “I try to let my facilities know what the EPA is planning, or what other facilities are trying to do— without giving away any proprietary information,” Finn says. “I try to be helpful.”
He’s helpful inside the staff, as well, according to Kent McIntosh, a senior inspector. “On his own initiative, Jason took it upon himself to update and rewrite, if necessary, some written procedures that all 28 inspectors use daily in their own work. This work has proved especially invaluable for newly hired inspectors, who rely most heavily upon these written procedures and policies,” McIntosh wrote on the nomination form. “He helped the Los Angeles Basin Section (of CWEA) start its Technical Certification Program test review, now held annually in August. His success is due to his initiative and leadership. When he sees a problem he tries to solve it.”