SAN FRANCISCO — On Monday, January 9, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that Sims Metal Management, a metals recycling company, had been issued a notice of violation for polluting the San Francisco Bay and violating the Clean Water Act.
“All of the things we found are toxic” said the EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, Jared Blumenfeld. “Once we find something illegal of this nature, we need to make sure the facility takes immediate steps to eliminate those discharges.” Sims Metal Management must have a plan of action devised by Monday. Unless the facility completely remedies the problem within 90 days, they could potentially be fined up to $37,500 a day under the Clean Water Act.
Sims claims to be one of the world’s truly green companies and has been included in the past as one of the most sustainable corporations in the world. The company is also self-stated as the leader in metals and electronics recycling.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, traces of lead, mercury, PCBs, copper and zinc were found in the soils and sediment where the facility meets Redwood Creek during inspections of the company’s Industrial Storm Water Permit last March and again in August. In particular, the PCB levels were elevated up to 10,000 times over the norm while the mercury levels were 100 times the norm. Levels this high pose a threat to fish, wildlife and humans. These pollutants are believed to have come from the shredded metal products that the facility allegedly released into a Redwood Creek while being transported on a conveyer belt to various ships. The creek flows directly into the bay.
Daniel Strechay, a Sims spokesman, issued a statement later that Monday. “Sims is committed to protection and promotion of a healthy environment,” he said. “The company anticipates that this matter can be resolved to EPA’s full satisfaction.”
This issue has proved to not only be a concern for the EPA, but also for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As stated by the Merced Sunstar, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is mainly concerned that the shredded automobile residue could have drifted into the neighboring wetlands. If this scenario proves to be true, local endangered species may have consequently been harmed.