The Sacramento, California-based Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has ordered the operators of the Sims Metal auto shredding facility in Redwood City, California, “to determine the extent of toxic pollution coming from their facility and to clean it up.”
The attention to the Redwood City shredding plant comes after a March 9 fire at the yard. “The investigation and cleanup evaluation will include recent and historical release at the facility, including any impacts from [the] March 9 fire,” writes the DTSC.
The DTSC has undertaken a consistent and sometimes high-visibility campaign to scrutinize the air and water emissions of auto shredding facilities, to the extent that the issue is front and center on the home page of its website. At times, its scrutiny has been focused on the Schnitzer Steel Industries yard in Oakland, California, or the SA Recycling yard near Los Angeles.
On at least one occasion, recycling companies and their advocates have successfully challenged orders or actions taken by the DTSC.
The DTSC says it is concerned about potential health impacts on people living and working near the Sims Redwood City facility. The 12-acre recycling and shredding operation also “is adjacent to Redwood Creek, a public trail and two islands that are part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge,” DTSC writes, adding that Redwood Creek leads into San Francisco Bay.
“Metal recycling facilities have drawn our attention because of the potential exposure from harmful materials coming from these types of operations,” says DTSC Director Dr. Meredith Williams.
The agency describes the Redwood City shredder yard as one where Sims “receives, sorts, separates and stores bulk metal scrap for sale and export and operates a conveyor that deposits the material onto ships.”
The agency cites concerns about “elevated levels of lead, zinc and cadmium both on- and off-site.” In 2019, the DTSC says its inspectors “discovered hazardous waste levels of toxic chemicals in several places within facility grounds. Inspectors also found buildup of light fibrous materials, a hazardous substance, on the facility’s pavement and near its operations.”
Regarding its latest enforcement order, the DTSC says “the named parties must meet certain deadlines and submit required investigation reports to the DTSC, including a plan for cleaning up contamination.” The DTSC says it also “will notify the surrounding community so residents can weigh in on the proposed cleanup plan.”