California Agency Seeks Enforcement Assistance for Recycling Operations

Departments plan to cooperate to ensure scrap metal recyclers meet state environmental regulations.

October 2, 2012
Recycling Today Staff

The California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) is seeking to improve intra-agency coordination when it comes to the inspection of scrap recycling facility operations in the state.

While recognizing the value of the scrap metal industry for the state, the DTSC notes that some scrap metal operations can create significant environmental and public health threats. In many cases the problems are beyond the regulatory authority of a single state agency.

For example, the DTSC says that some companies in this industry may mishandle hazardous waste and/or contaminate air, water and soil, each of which is overseen a different state or local agency. There may also be a risk to worker safety.

To remedy the issue, the DTSC is undertaking a focused enforcement response that seeks  to coordinate with local and state partner agencies whose authority addresses areas for which DTSC does not have authority.

Much of the problems were galvanized when the City of Los Angeles’ City Attorney Carmen Trutanich filed criminal misdemeanor charges against four South Los Angeles scrap metal yards and metal shredding facilities for environmental violations. The charges followed a coordinated multi-agency sweep and inspection of the facilities in January and February 2012 designed to determine compliance with environmental safety requirements.

The four companies charged were Central Metal Inc., C&M Metals, CDL Scrap Metal and MG Paint.

The decision to improve cooperation between various state agencies also was galvanized by a recent report by the Los Angeles Times, which noted widespread violations of environmental laws and accidents at scrap metal facilities in the Los Angeles area that killed or seriously injured workers and harmed residential communities. The Times found that at least 23 fires and explosions had occurred at scrap metal operations in the last three years.