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Burning Rubber: Rhode Island Scrap Metal Processor Pays Penalty for Allegedly Spewing Toxic Chemicals into the Air

  • Rhode Island AG Peter Neronha and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management reached a settlement with scrap metal processor SMM New England Corporation, d/b/a SIMS Metal Management (“SIMS”) to resolve allegations that SIMS engaged in polluting practices in its metal-shredding operations in violation of the Rhode Island Clean Air Act.
  • The complaint alleged that SIMS’s metal shredding process for recycling cars, appliances, and other metal-bearing equipment generated enough heat to melt plastics and other chemicals, thereby releasing impermissibly high levels of volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, and toxic air contaminants. The complaint further alleges that SIMS did not have the appropriate permits for the type of pollutants it was generating, and did not install the appropriate equipment to keep the pollutants from contaminating the environment.
  • Under the terms of the consent decree, SIMS agreed to a partially suspended penalty of $2 million. SIMS will pay $875,000 to the state, of which $325,000 will fund Supplemental Environmental Projects. $1.125 million will be suspended upon SIMS’s completion of certain actions required by the consent decree, including applying for the appropriate permits, installing emission-control technology at SIMS’s plant, and implementing interim controls to limit pollutant exposure in the vicinity of its plant.