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State orders Sims Metal to clean up pollution weeks after fire at Redwood City facility

The news comes after a March 9 blaze

Just weeks after a ‘big fire’ broke out at the Redwood City Sims Metal, the State of California on Monday has ordered the recycling center to investigate the degree to which its operations may have caused pollution in the area from its facility and to clean it up, according to a news release from the state

In a letter addressed to Sims Metal dated March 24, 2022, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) said it is requiring “corrective action to address a release of hazardous wastes” and that the state agency had conducted multiple inspections of the recycling facility and had determined that “releases of hazardous waste and hazardous waste constituents have occurred.” 

Concentrations of lead, zinc and copper that "exceeded hazardous waste levels" were collected during inspections, the state agency said in the letter. The letter notes that pollution releases may have "migrated toward soil, groundwater, air, and neighboring properties, and surface waters, such as Redwood Creek and the San Francisco Bay," both of which are adjacent to the facility. Bair Island and Greco Islands are also nearby. 

DTSC said it is “concerned about the potential health impact" nearby daycare centers, parks hospitals, schools and homes, the press release said.  

“DTSC has a responsibility to protect communities and the environment from companies and industries that pollute,” said DTSC Director Dr. Meredith Williams in a statement. “Metal recycling facilities have drawn our attention because of the potential exposure from harmful materials coming from these types of operations.”

The recycling center, a 12-acre recycling and shredding facility, receives, sorts, separates and stores bulk scrap for sale and exports, and operates a conveyor that deposits the material onto ships, according to ships, according to the news release. 

On March 9, firefighters responded to a blaze on Seaport Boulevard in Redwood City where “multiple explosions” involving propane cylinders and projectiles, according to officials. 

This wasn’t the metal recycling plant’s first blaze; a two-alarm fire, which broke out at the same Sims Metal in December 2013, was the second in two months. There were no injuries, but the fire burned for more than eight hours before being contained.

While the order includes the March 9 fire, it is not the only cause for the investigation and cleanup. In fact, the enforcement order makes mention of similar actions taken by DTSC against metal recyclers and shredders statewide. 



Michelle Iracheta

About the Author: Michelle Iracheta

Michelle Iracheta is the editor at the Redwood City Pulse. Her work has appeared in the Houston Chronicle, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Seattle Times and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. She enjoys spending time with her mini doodle, Kooper.
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