Rhode Island agency says that Rhode Island Recycled Metals, SMM New England failed to obtain proper permits.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has issued Notices of Violation (NOV) to three Rhode Island businesses for alleged environmental violations arising from the recycling and ship repair/maintenance and scrap metal recycling along the Providence waterfront.
One NOV was issued to Rhode Island Recycled Metals LLC (RIRM) and ACR Realty LLC for alleged violations of Rhode Island’s Water Pollution Act, state water quality regulations, Rhode Island Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (RIPDES) regulations and state oil pollution control regulations. The violations carry a $46,250 penalty.
DEM issued a permit to RIRM on Sept. 14, 2011, to discharge stormwater associated with industrial activity. The permit required the installation of stormwater controls. However, according to the DEM, the permit does not authorize some of the auto salvage activity taking place at the site because the company failed to disclose the activity on the permit application. According to the NOV, the permit application made no mention of activity involving vehicle crushing or engine removal and storage.
According to DEM inspectors, vehicle crushing, vehicle engine removal, vehicle engine storage activities and repair and maintenance of equipment were conducted at the facility as early as November 2011. DEM inspections also found oil staining on the land in the vehicle engine storage area. In January 2012, RIRM notified DEM that four derelict vessels are undergoing vessel dismantling activity.
Rhode Island’s DEM adds that to date, RIRM has not obtained a water quality certificate from DEM for the vessel dismantling activity. Further, the agency says that RIRM has not obtained approval from the DEM to undertake repair and maintenance of equipment, vehicle crushing or vehicle engine removal and storage on the property. RIRM also has not installed the stormwater controls as required under the permit, the agency claims.
Under terms of the NOV, the respondents are ordered to immediately cease receiving additional derelict vessels for dismantling until all required DEM permits are obtained; immediately cease receiving any scrap metal and vehicles until certain conditions are met; and immediately cease releasing oil/petroleum onto the surface of the ground and report any future oil/petroleum releases to DEM. Further, the respondents must immediately cease equipment repair and maintenance, vehicle crushing, vehicle engine removal, and engine storage activities.
RIRM also is required to immediately install and maintain oil/petroleum containment boom surrounding all in-water operations, and collect and properly dispose of all produce captured by the boom. Finally, the respondents are ordered to immediately install as necessary, repair and continuously maintain all erosion and sedimentation controls as required.
Within 60 days, the companies must remove all scrap metal, engines and vehicles. By Dec. 31, 2012, the respondents must complete the dismantling of the sunken barge, tugboat, ferry and submarine, and dispose of all ballast and bilge water from the vessels.
RIRM chose not to comment on the DEM’s NOV.
The R.I. DEM also issued a NOV to SMM New England Corp. (SMM), which operates a ship repair/maintenance and scrap metal recycling in Providence. The company was cited for alleged violations of the state’s Water Pollution Act, state water quality regulations and RIPDES regulations. The violations carry a $25,000 penalty.
SMM acquired the facility from Promet Marine Services Corp. last October. On Oct. 25, 2011 SMM informed DEM that it wanted to continue with the ship building/repair business previously done by Promet.
DEM advised SMM that it needed to file a request to transfer the stormwater permit that DEM issued to Promet. DEM also advised SMM that if it decided to expand the activities beyond ship building/repair it would need to reapply for authorization and submit a new stormwater plan that addressed the proposed activities.
According to the NOV, SMM did not file a request to transfer the stormwater permit issued to Promet until January 2012, and expanded its activities to scrap metal recycling without reapplying to DEM for authorization to do so.
Last December, DEM inspectors observed a discharge of stormwater associated with scrap metal recycling and ship repair/maintenance to the Providence River. To date, SMM has not obtained approval from DEM to discharge stormwater associated with industrial activity.
Under terms of the NOV, the DEM ordered SMM to immediately cease receiving any scrap metal until the firm obtains a stormwater permit from DEM and constructs the required stormwater controls. Also, SMM is ordered to immediately cease receiving any ships for repair/maintenance until it obtains a stormwater permit from DEM. Within 60 days of receipt of the NOV, SMM must remove all scrap metal from the property and complete repairs/maintenance to all ships on the property; within seven days of completing these actions, SMM must clean the property of any waste debris associated with ship repair/maintenance and properly dispose of the waste.
A spokesman for SMM, however, contests the agency’s claim. In a statement, SMM says, “The company strongly disagrees with RIDEM’s (Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management) decision to issue the NOV, and firmly believes that this NOV does not accurately reflect the situation at our facility. We believe that this misunderstanding will be resolved in the very near future and that Sims took the appropriate steps to operate its business within the requirements of the State’s storm water program.”
Continuing, SMM notes that it has invested in the appropriate stormwater control technology, and has implemented rigorous environmental controls and protocols since then. The statement points out that in January (2012), the company installed a nearly 1,000 foot-long, 16-foot high, seven-foot thick wall to contain storm water and prevent it from leaving the scrap metal lay down operating and storage area of the facility. The cost for this improvement was nearly $1 million.
In addition, SMM notes, the facility had been in dialogue with RIDEM in the period in question and understood that it was in compliance with stormwater requirements for both the ship repair and the scrap storage areas of the facility.
“We were disappointed to receive this NOV under the circumstances of what we understand was our proactive steps some months ago regarding this issue.”