Public Health & Recreation

Metals Scrapper Penalized for Clean Air Violations


Sims Metal Management, a global metal-scrap processor, has three facilities in Rhode Island, one in Johnston and two in Providence, including this one on Allens Avenue. (ecoRI News)

Under the settlement, SMM, a scrap-metals recycler on Green Earth Avenue, will come into compliance with state and federal clean air requirements and will pay $250,000 in penalties, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Before being fined, the facility, which has been in business for about seven years, was operational despite not having an operating license or an air pollution permit.

The EPA, in concert with Rhode Island’s attorney general and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), alleged that SMM built a new major source of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) without securing a permit and without installing required emission controls — a violation of the state’s clean air “state implementation plan,” the mechanism under which states and the EPA ensure that air quality attains national health-based standards.

A Rhode Island Superior Court judge finalized a consent judgment in September under which SMM will pay a separate penalty to the state and will take all steps necessary to come into compliance with air permitting and air pollution control requirements.

The metal shredder that SMM owns and operates at its Johnston location shreds end-of-life automobiles, appliances, and other metal-bearing materials. This 7,000-horsepower shredder generates enough heat to melt or burn the plastics, paints, and oils in the scrap metal materials, causing harmful air emissions of VOCs, particulate matter, and toxic air contaminants.

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