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World’s Largest Metal Recycler Ordered to Stop Discharges

The world’s largest metals and electronics recycler, Sims Metal Management, has been illegally discharging PCBs, mercury, lead, copper and zinc into San Francisco Bay, the EPA charged on Tuesday.

The EPA ordered Sims, located at the Port of Redwood City, Calif., to comply with federal Clean Water Act laws. It also ordered Sims to submit a revised storm water pollution prevention plan, to update monitoring and sampling within 30 days of the order and to develop and implement storm water pollution counter measures.

The EPA inspected the facility (pictured) in March 2011 and says it found evidence at shipping and rail receiving areas that pollutants had been discharged to Redwood Creek, a tributary to San Francisco Bay. The bay is listed on the state’s list of impaired waters for pesticides, mercury, PCBs and trash.

The agency inspected the facility again in August, taking debris and soil samples, which it says demonstrated elevated PCBs, mercury, lead, copper and zinc.

The EPA’s order requires Sims to develop and submit a plan within 90 days to eliminate these discharges to Redwood Creek within one year. The company must sample storm water discharges monthly throughout the winter and spring; revise its storm water pollution prevention plan to update monitoring and sampling; and develop and implement storm water pollution counter measures for all areas of activity.

The EPA says Sims is working cooperatively to address requirements of the order.

The facility is home to one of the largest metal shredders in the Bay Area, the EPA says, and its activities include shredding entire cars before exporting overseas to countries including China. Twenty large vessels picked up an average of 22,000 tons of shredded materials from the facility from July 2010 to June 2011, according to the Port of Redwood City.

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4 thoughts on “World’s Largest Metal Recycler Ordered to Stop Discharges

  1. It is not surprising. I have conducted numerous compliance and system audits of metal and e-waste recyclers and the top two non-compliance issues are universal waste labeling & storage and lack of stormwater permit or no-exposure.

  2. One of the challenges is that Storm Water and DMR reporting dont really hit high on corporate oversight and they tend to be negelected or not as controlled as other aspects of EHS programs. People just assume it is getting done, or that they are meeting requirements. Its almost like they dont want to know. But then things like this expose the underbelly and companies can be hit with large fines or worse complete facility closures and increasing penalties.

    If you need help managing DMR and Waste Water Programs, Locus Technologies provides a software application that can help manage everything from the DMR reports and analytical data to general oversight and management of the program activities and reminders.

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