California agency issues violations after scrap yard fire

Sims Metal Management receives violations following fire at its Richmond, California, scrap yard.

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February 9, 2018
Edited by Dan Sandoval
Ferrous Legislation & Regulations Safety

California’s Bay Area Air Quality Management District has announced that two notices of violation have been issued to Sims Metal Management for a fire at its Richmond, Calif., scrap yard Jan. 30, 2018.

The notices of violation include one public nuisance violation and one illegal open burning violation.

“The Air District is continuing to investigate this incident for all potential air quality violations in collaboration with Contra Costa County Health Services and other agencies,” says Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Air District. “Together with our partner agencies, we will fully investigate the cause to prevent fires like these from occurring in the future.”

Smoke from the fire resulted in air quality complaints from local residents plus road closures, limited evacuations and “shelter-in-place” instructions for areas near the fire. Air District staff collected air samples that indicated elevated air pollution levels in the area closest to the fire. Fines and penalties are under review and will be levied on a future date.

Following the fire, Sims Metal Management released a statement declaring in part, “We want to assure members of the public that we will continue to be a valuable member of the community and that we will maintain our rigorous standards. We will be able to have a better understanding of what happened and how best to mitigate the risks once we have completed our evaluation of how the fire began and its root cause.

“We expect to be transparent in that process," the statement continues. "We will look at any improvements to reduce the risk of fires at this facility, including a focus on stockpile size, improving fire breaks and use of technology to monitor stockpiles.”

Sims’ statement continues, “In any fire event, our facility is designed to contain stormwater and our systems operated as designed.

"We will continue to work with those authorities regulating our business and seek to implement additional corrective measures if and when recommended. Toward that end, we expect to be meeting with the regulatory and local community to listen and, as needed, to act. We apologize for any inconvenience caused to the community by this incident and will continue to be committed to being a good corporate neighbor.”

Jill Rodby, a spokeswoman for Sims Metal Management’s West Region, also commented, “We will need to review the notices and will work cooperatively with the agency to address its concerns.”