Keeping our waterways, and beaches blue and pollution free is an around-the-clock essential job. In the City of Los Angeles, it’s a collaborative effort between LA Sanitation & Environment (LASAN) workers in the blue uniforms and their brothers and sisters in the lab coats.
Pandemic or no pandemic, ensuring that our catch basins and sewage pipes are free of debris that will pollute the ocean, is a job that cannot be done from home. This work happens in the streets — above ground and underground, and it’s a messy job.
For blue uniformed workers like LASAN Water Collection Worker and SEIU Local 721 E-Board member Simboa Wright, keeping our city’s sanitation system functioning is contingent on having the right personal safety equipment, like gloves, helmets, respirators and sanitizer.
By now, it’s not news that the COVID-19 pandemic has created supply chain issues throughout the world making access to N95 masks, ventilators and sanitizers nearly impossible. Enter: the LASAN Lab workers.
LASAN Lab Managers and Chemists working in the labs at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant have jumped in to give workers like Simboa the safeguards he needs to do this essential work.
Since mid-March, our LASAN SEIU 721 members at Hyperion Treatmen Plant have been making ethanol-based sanitizer for their fellow LA Sanitation co-workers who work out in the field and simply don’t have access to a washing station.
“We’re pitching in any way we can for LA Sanitation and for the City of Los Angeles,” says SEIU 721 E-Board Member and Lab Manager Stacee Karnya.
“We started off in small batches, but we’ve ramped it up. We’re up to 450 liters total in sanitizer that we have made.”
The LASANitizer, as it has been branded, is also being distributed to other workers who also belong to the Coalition of City Unions, and other workers who also work for LASAN.
“We are so proud that our members from SEIU 721 have stepped up to the plate when it came to this challenge of making sanitizer,” says Simboa Wright.
“That really helps us because we don’t have running water out there. This helps us take every precaution to keep our hands clean. Our folks are really grateful for our scientists and chemists.”
Currently, the LASANitzer production is on hold, since ethanol is a key chemical that is used in the City labs to carry out the day-to-day work that happens in the City’s labs.
Look out for the LASANitizer bottles out in the field!