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Enforcement Program Focuses on...

Enforcement Program Focuses on California’s Metal Recyclers

By Sanford (Sandy) Nax

The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced today that an investigation referred to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office has resulted in the filing of 19 criminal charges against a Sun Valley scrap metal recycler for allegedly releasing hazardous chemicals.

The charges are the first to stem from a statewide initiative that found alleged hazardous waste violations at 40 out of 42 metal recycling companies, most in environmentally burdened communities.

“This program confirms there should be continued focus on this industry,” said Hansen Pang, chief investigator of DTSC’s Office of Criminal Investigations. “Many of these facilities are in California’s most vulnerable communities. We are creating strategies to ensure these companies meet regulations, and that residents in these areas are protected.”

In the Sun Valley case, DTSC’s Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) found the owners and operators of ANK Metal Recycling allegedly failed to properly store and dispose of hazardous waste such as diesel fuel, heavy metals, refrigerant gases and asbestos.

The 2015 Enhanced Enforcement Initiative in Vulnerable Communities called for inspecting 40 to 45 of the state’s 2,500 metal-recycling facilities. OCI inspectors found alleged violations at 95 percent of those inspected, and DTSC is pursuing enforcement action on all violations.

OCI also uncovered alleged violations related to used oil filters that were not properly drained, illegally transported and improperly crushed and shredded. Four facilities have signed interim consent agreements requiring that the used oil filters they receive are properly drained and managed. Following are some of the violations found during the initiative:

• Failure to remove materials requiring special handling, such as mercury-containing switches, capacitors, refrigerants, oils, and batteries from vehicles and appliances;

• Mismanagement of metal recycling residues, such as debris and soil contaminated with hazardous waste levels of heavy metals, PCBs, and oils;

• Unauthorized acceptance, storage, transportation, and treatment of undrained used oil filters and other hazardous waste;

• Failure to comply with hazardous waste recordkeeping requirements; and

• Failure to minimize releases of hazardous waste and constituents from processing scrap metal.

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