State orders investigation of plant leaking lead, heavy metals near Port of L.A.

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Cargo containers sit stacked at the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest container port, on October 15, 2021 in San Pedro, California. Photo credit Mario Tama/Getty Images

California state public health and environmental officials annnounced Wednesday that a recycling plant on Terminal Island —not far from the Port of Los Angeles — had been formally ordered to investigate and immediately reduce its pollution output.

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), a state agency, said it issued the order after learning that S.A. Recycling LLC, which operates the plant, allowed toxic material to leak from its facility into the local environment.

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The Terminal Island plant recycles metal by deconstructing used cars and appliances and processing other scrap metal.

In September, state scientists identified high amounts of lead, cadmium, and zinc in and around the facility. Investigators blamed the company's metal recycling process.

Officials ordered the owner and the plant's previous operator, Simsmetal West LLC, to investigate the impact its alleged negligence had on the surrounding soil, groundwater, and ocean.

"DTSC is continuing to take actions such as this one to protect all Californians from potential exposure to harmful materials stemming frmo the operation of metal recycling activities," said agency director Meredith Williams in a statement on Wednesday.

"Especially in neighborhoods already suffering from multiple sources of pollution," she added.

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