SA Recycling LLC., has agreed to pay $2.9 million in a settlement after the Anaheim-based scrap metal recycler was accused of illegal disposal of hazardous waste that was illegally transported by unregistered hazardous waste haulers to the Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Castaic. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed the civil lawsuit and settlement in late August 2011.
The Chiquita Canyon Landfill and the City of Santa Clarita will receive no part of the settlement.
The Chiquita Canyon Landfill is located about 3 miles west of the Interstate 5 on State Route 126 in the Santa Clarita Valley. They have been in operation since 1972 and have been an active member of the Santa Clarita community for decades.
The local landfill stated, “Only non-hazardous solid waste is accepted for disposal at Chiquita Canyon.”
The Simi Valley Landfill and Recycling Center was also included in the settlement as other locations of illegal dumping of toxins. According to City News Service, “The toxins were coarse particulate matter, including lead dust.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management had stated in regards to disposal of lead-contaminated waste, “Lead poisoning is the number one environmental health threat to children in the United States. If these lead-contaminated wastes are not properly managed, the risk of exposure to harmful levels of lead is increased. Health effects include permanent learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and severe developmental delays.”
SA Recycling was also accused of continuing operation at their Los Angeles Port location after a 2007 explosion destroyed the air pollution control system. Officials informed the Ventura County Star that the facility operated without a properly working air pollution system for approximately 120 days, which released an “estimated 4.4 tons of shredder residue into the atmosphere.”
The metal recycler company agreed to the settlement if they did not have to admit any fault on their part.
SA Recycling spokesperson Michael Bustamante said, “We have an entirely different point of view than the District Attorney and we will continue to deny that any of the alleged allegations occurred.”
Waste Management of California claims it was blindsided by the lawsuit, as well as the settlement. Doug Corcoran, Waste Management’s Director of Special Projects, stated that the company had no idea of the allegations of hazardous dumping. Corcoran told Ventura County Star, “We’re trying to get to the bottom of it. We weren’t aware of any investigation. We certainly have no indication of anything hazardous coming to our site. We’re taking this pretty seriously.”
As for the settlement breakdown, $1.7 million will cover the installation of a new air-pollution control system at the Los Angeles Port Terminal Island shredder. City News Service has stated eleven area marina operators will receive $165,000 for remediation, the State Department of Toxic Substance Control will receive $430,000, the Coalition for Safe Environment will receive $75,000, and the University of California, Davis’ College of Engineering will receive $100,000 for research.