Half of county hazmat inspections weren't done

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SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) – An audit shows half the businesses billed for required Orange County hazardous materials inspections were never examined by firefighters. The Orange County Fire Authority is required to conduct inspections at about 2,600 businesses each year.

But the Orange County Register says the audit triggered by an anonymous tip shows nearly 1,460 businesses were billed $360,000 for inspections never performed by firefighters.

Authority directors meet Thursday night to consider refunds.

Battalion Chief Kris Concepcion blames lax controls over the inspection program, saying it deserves a higher priority. Data from inspections is collected by a state agency that makes sure local agencies are meeting state environmental standards.

The Orange County Employees Association says fire prevention workers voiced concerns about the program in recent years but nothing was done.

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