Pollution

State Orders Redwood City Metal Recycler To Investigate, Clean Up Potential Pollution – CBS San Francisco

REDWOOD CITY (BCN) – State regulators this month ordered a Redwood City metal recycling company to investigate potential pollution coming from its facility due to reports of hazardous releases there in past years.

California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control ordered Sims Metal Management to determine the extent of its toxic pollution and clean it up. These include potential toxic releases from the past and any impacts from a fire that occurred at the facility in early March.

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Sims Metal Management, located off US Highway 101 near the Redwood Creek, receives, recycles and exports scrap metal from local suppliers and businesses.

The state department reportedly found elevated levels of lead, zinc and cadmium at the site in addition to a buildup of light fibrous material, which are produced during the metal shredding process, at or near the facility between 2012 and 2019. Without proper management, light fibrous materials can be “uncontrollably dispersed offsite due to wind, rain, or other factors,” according to the state’s order.

This 2019 photo shows piles of shredder waste at Sims Metal Management, a metal recycling company in Redwood City. (California Department of Toxic Substances Control via Bay City News Service)

Given the facility’s proximity to homes, parks, schools, a trail and parts of a wildlife refuge, the state is concerned about health impacts to nearby populations.

Redwood City is already considered a community vulnerable to pollution, according to CalEnviroScreen, an online tool by the state that identifies communities impacted by pollution.

However, at this time, the state does not have evidence of health impacts related to hazardous releases from the facility, according to Sandy Nax, a spokesperson for the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

“DTSC identified releases, migration, and accumulation of material containing hazardous waste and constituents with potential health threats, but until their nature, extent, and concentration is identified, health impacts are not known,” Nax said.

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In a 2020 letter, Sims claimed that the state had “no factual or legal basis” to require them to address the release of hazardous substances and declined to take steps to investigate and cleanup pollution, according to the state’s order.

Sims was not immediately available for comment on this story.

But the state moved forward with taking action.

The most recent order, issued on March 21, requires Sims to report its conditions to the state within two months. After that, they will also have to propose a cleanup plan.

The state has taken similar action against metal recyclers and shredders statewide, as many of the operations are located in communities experiencing high levels of pollution.

Dr. Meredith Williams, DTSC director, said that metal recycling facilities have drawn their attention due to “the potential exposure from harmful materials coming from these types of operations.”

People can direct inquiries to the Department of Toxic Substances Control by phone at (800) 728-6942 or online at http://www.dtsc.ca.gov. To report illegal handling, discharge, or disposal of hazardous waste, call the Waste Alert Hotline at (800) 698-6942.

More information on metal shredding facilities and wastes is available on the state’s website at https://dtsc.ca.gov/metal-shredders/.

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