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EPA Closes Hazardous Waste Storage Case in Johnston, R.I

Release Date: 11/08/2001
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617) 918-1013

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has resolved a case with a Rhode Island metal recycling company that improperly stored hazardous waste at its plant on Celia Street in Johnston.

Metals Recycling, LLC has entered into two administrative consent orders with EPA for violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The company will pay a cash penalty of $200,000 and agreed to reduce lead contamination in piles of improperly stored, non-metallic hazardous waste at its 18-acre site.

The company processes, separates, sorts and stockpiles scrap metal. It handles 200 tons of light iron a day, consisting mainly of old cars and appliances. The operation requires the company to separate non-metallic material from junked cars it processes. The separated non-metallic material, known as auto shredder residue, or "ASR", has the consistency of small pieces of foam.

When sampled by EPA using a lead leachability test, ASR generated at the company's facility in August through October of 1999 showed levels of lead over an EPA hazardous waste threshold of five milligrams per liter (mg/l). Metals Recycling does not have a permit to store hazardous waste at its plant. It is estimated the piles of improperly stored ASR at Metals Recycling weigh between 10,000 and 12,000 tons and are stored outdoors on asphalt cement.

"Metals Recycling should not be storing this material on its property, and by doing so, it may have put the health of its neighbors and the environment at risk," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "These agreements address the problem allowing the company to treat the pile on site to reduce the amount of lead."

One of the agreements requires Metal Recycling to treat the piles that have exceeded the 5 mg/l limit with Portland Cement, a treatment technology that is effective in binding lead and reducing the chance it will leach into the ground and become a source of contamination.

After treatment with the Portland Cement is complete, the piles will be retested. If the samples show that the ASR falls below the 5 mg/l contamination level, it will be rendered non-toxic and may be disposed of as a solid waste.