EPA Orders San Francisco Metals, Electronics Recycler to Cease Illegal Discharges

Regulators discovered discharges of PCBs, mercury, lead and copper

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered Sims Metal Management, located at the Port of Redwood City, Calif., to comply with federal Clean Water Act laws following inspections that found evidence of unlawful discharges of PCBs, mercury, lead, copper and zinc into San Francisco Bay. The South Bay facility is home to one of the largest metal shredders in the Bay Area, and regularly shreds entire cars before exporting the metal overseas.

Sims claims to be the world’s largest metals and electronics recycler. According to records provided by the Port of Redwood City, from July 2010 to June 2011, 20 large vessels, picked up and transported an average of 22,000 tons of shredded material from the facility bound for global destinations including China. The largest transport during the specified time period was 35,000 tons of shredded material.

In March 2011, EPA inspected the facility to determine compliance. During the inspection, enforcement officers found evidence at the facility’s shipping and rail receiving areas that pollutants have been discharged to Redwood Creek, a direct tributary to San Francisco Bay. In August 2011, EPA again inspected the facility and took samples of debris and soils in the areas that flow to San Francisco Bay, where the facility conducts shipping and receiving activities. The results of the samples demonstrated elevated PCBs, mercury, lead, copper and zinc.

Sims acknowledged receipt of the EPA order on Dec. 21, 2011. The order requires Sims to submit a revised storm water pollution prevention plan and to update monitoring and sampling within 30 days of the order. EPA’s order also requires Sims to develop and submit a plan within 90 days to eliminate these discharges to Redwood Creek within one year.


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