Andre Balazs and the Chlorine Cloud

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We’re off for our usual pre-Fashion Week week of Pilates and sartorial palette cleansing (also on our to-do list: processing for future posts the mounds of interesting merchandise we encountered at the New York International Gift Fair), but one more bit of news before we leave to you in the nimble hands of guest blogger Mary Beth Klatt. It’s a story we’ve dubbed “Andre Balazs and the Mysterious Chlorine Cloud,” which only sounds like a lost Tintin adventure. Earlier this month, reports of noxious gas swirls seeded fears of a terrorist attack in downtown Los Angeles. Turns out it was a nearby storm basin bubbling with chlorine courtesy of the rooftop pool-endowed Standard Hotel, explains today’s Los Angeles Times:

Hotel maintenance workers initially admitted pouring a small amount of chlorine down a rooftop drain. But investigators did not believe that would have accounted for the noxious cloud. An FBI agent, who specializes in environmental crimes and who is known for her pit bull-like tenacity, conducted follow-up interviews in which employees eventually acknowledged emptying the majority of two 50-gallon drums of muriatic acid and chlorine into the drain, the complaint alleges.

Andre Balazs Properties, owner of The Standard, has been charged by the U.S. attorney’s office with knowingly disposing of hazardous waste and could be fined up to $500,000 if convicted. Assistant Attorney Joe Johns, who is prosecuting the case, told the LAT, “The law does not discriminate between hazardous wastes generated by chic hotels or foul junkyards.” We hear that chic junkyards, elusive as they are, get a pass.