Friday, March 9, 2012
Metal Recycling Operation Spills Contaminants
The Environmental Protection Agency put a metal recycling company on notice for allegedly contaminating San Francisco Bay with lead, mercury, PCBs, copper and zinc, according to several news reports.
The company shreds about 300,000 automobiles each year, as well as appliances and other metal products, and loads them onto ships that go to Korea and China so they can be made into new products. It is believed the pollution resulted from debris that fell off a huge conveyor belt used to load the oceangoing ships. Nearby, a 140-acre property that was to be transferred to a nearby wildlife refuge has also been contaminated. A fluffy gray material was reported blowing from the metal recycling site across the nearby land and into waterways.
The company involved, Sims Metal Management, has previously been in the news for a fire five years ago that sent a plume of black, polluted smoke across Silicon Valley. The pollutants this time were discovered in the soil and in the sediment near Redwood Creek. Mercury exceeded the protective levels by 110 times, and copper exceeded the levels by 86 times. Worse yet, polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, were recorded at levels 10,000 times the acceptable amount.
You can read more about it at The Kansas City Star, the Sacramento Business Journal and Environmental Leader