Utah DEQ reaches partial settlement with Western Metals Recycling

Settlement addresses three of four counts levied by the DEQ.

January 26, 2015
Recycling Today Staff
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The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) says it has reached a settlement agreement with Western Metals Recycling regarding leaked oil found at the company’s scrap yard in Salt Lake City. The settlement, pending comments from the public, will result in an agreed-upon fine of $17,600.

Scott Anderson, director of the Utah DEQ, says the settlement addresses three of the four counts the state has levied against the company. The scrap metal recycling company will go to court to decide the fourth count, he says. “Both parties agreed to settlements on the three counts,” Anderson adds.

He explains that a key issue between the two parties is what the DEQ says is the failure of Western Metals Recycling to remove oil filters from vehicles prior to scrapping them.

Anderson says state law requires companies that recycle automobiles to remove oil filters and drain the oil from end-of-life vehicles prior to scrapping them.

During a routine inspection in early 2013, Anderson says DEQ inspectors found motor oil leaking onto the ground and draining into an unlined retention pond. The DEQ says it filed a notice of violation against Western Metals in early 2013.

According to local news reports, while it has agreed to the settlement, Western Metals Recycling has not conceded wrongdoing. Additionally, in its response to the state’s notice, the company rejected the allegations, describing them as the handiwork of an “overzealous” inspector who “harbors ill-will and animus toward the company and its employees."

“Without a reasonable basis, the inspector singled out Western Metals and had engaged in a pattern of escalating harassment, threats and intimidation,” the company’s lawyers wrote. “The inspector is treating Western Metals differently than other similarly situated competitors.”