State Regulators File Civil Complaint Against Watts Area Metal Recycler

Sacramento CA (7/25/2022) – The state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is going to court to hold recycling business S&W Atlas Iron & Metal Co., Inc.  in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles accountable for violations of California’s hazardous waste laws, and to request that a judge impose penalties for previous violations.

DTSC filed the complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court in connection with alleged violations inspectors identified in July and October 2020. This civil complaint asks a judge to order Atlas to follow hazardous waste laws.  The  complaint is in addition to DTSC’s order to Atlas to investigate and clean up any contamination on site and to prevent any future releases of hazardous waste.

    “It is imperative that Atlas operates safely because of its proximity to Jordan High School, Southeast Middle School, and the 700-unit Jordan Downs public housing project,” said DTSC Director Meredith Williams. “We will use every tool at our disposal to protect the students and the community from this facility and work to ensure Atlas is held accountable.”

Atlas sorts scrap metal by type and some of it – such as air conditioning units, washers and microwaves – goes into an unenclosed 15- to 18-foot pile.  Employees then sort through this unenclosed pile with heavy machinery to separate the appliances from the scrap metal, tires, and assorted dirt and debris, and then they put the various items into roll-off bins and other containers.

Based on company manifests, the facility generates a variety of hazardous waste, including waste oil and lead waste.

In July 2020, DTSC inspectors responded to a complaint that the unenclosed pile was expanding. Upon inspection, DTSC found and documented the alleged violations contained in the complaint. The alleged violations were also identified in a follow-up inspection three months later.

The alleged violations included unauthorized storage of hazardous waste, not properly labeling roll-off bins containing hazardous waste, and not having emergency preparedness procedures and other measures in place that reduce the risk of releasing hazardous substances.

While Atlas has corrected the 2020 violations, DTSC has the authority to seek civil penalties for past violations and to seek injunctive relief to deter future violations, to protect the environment, and to protect the health and safety of nearby students, residents and others.

Contact: Sanford (Sandy) Nax
(916) 416-4309