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Sims to Pay Nearly $2.4 Million in Hazardous Waste Settlement

Sims Group USA will pay nearly $2.4 million to settle a civil environmental enforcement action resulting from a hazardous waste disposal investigation in California.

The state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control investigated Sims’ Redwood City facility and alleges that scrap metal recycling operations releases light fibrous material, some of which deposits onto nearby property and becomes a waste. Some of the waste, which resembles dryer lint, contains cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc at levels that exceed hazardous waste regulatory thresholds and is considered toxic.

The California Attorney General’s Office filed the action in San Mateo County Superior Court.

The state says the release, migration, deposition and accumulation of this waste outside the facility constitute the unlawful disposal of hazardous waste and a failure to minimize the possibility of a release of hazardous waste.

Sims does not admit to any of the allegations or claims made in the complaint.  In a statement, the company said: “Contrary to the allegations in the complaint, Sims maintains that LFM is a process-related material, not a waste, and that potential off-site dispersal of this material is properly regulated by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District under new regulations applicable to metal processing facilities and other District regulations.

“Sims remains committed to environmental stewardship and improvement at its Redwood City facility. For the past several years, Sims has been engaged in a Continuous Improvement Program that has resulted in the implementation of a number of other facility upgrades which have significantly reduced the off-site dispersal of LFM.  Sims is committed to continue to work closely with the community for the common betterment of local industry, commerce and residents in Redwood City.”

Under the settlement, Sims will pay $2,393,814 as follows:

  • $825,000 to DTSC in civil penalties and reimbursement of DTSC’s investigative costs;
  • $125,000 to the Environmental Enforcement and Training Account Program as a Supplemental Environmental Project; and
  • At least $1,443,814 to upgrade the facility beyond current regulatory requirements.

The facility upgrades are designed to reduce the potential for release of heavy metal-contaminated light fibrous material. They include construction of buildings to enclose the metal shredder, the screening unit and associated magnets; improving the air pollution control system; and constructing additional perimeter fencing.

Until the upgrades are complete, Sims will conduct weekly inspections to determine whether light fibrous material has accumulated on private properties and public sidewalks and streets near the facility and immediately remove any deposits. Any light fibrous material that might be released during the short term required to complete the upgrades should not exceed the standards set forth in the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Permit to Operate, which are designed to protect human health.

Last week AT&T agreed to pay California authorities $23.8 million as part of a settlement to resolve allegations that hundreds of AT&T facilities in the state unlawfully disposed of hazardous waste and material over a nine-year period.

In addition, AT&T will spend an estimated $28 million over the next five years to implement environmental compliance measures required by the settlement.

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