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U.S. EPA proposes penalty and cleanup action for past hazardous waste violations by defunct Los Angeles company

Release Date: 10/2/2003
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

LOS ANGELES -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has filed a claim in U.S. bankruptcy court against the former owner of Precision Specialty Metals over the company's past violations of federal hazardous waste laws.

Based in Los Angeles, the company was a steel conversion mill specializing in re-rolling, slitting, cutting and polishing "hot-band" stainless steel into standard or customized finished thin-gauge strip and sheets. Precision Specialty Metal's products were primarily used in the automotive, aerospace, construction, computer and appliance industries.

While it was still in business, the EPA identified the company as a large-quantity generator of hazardous wastes. This included chromium-contaminated waste salts, cadmium- and chromium- contaminated acid sludge, laboratory acids, salts and flammable wastes.

On Feb. 27, 2002, the EPA inspected Precision Specialty Metals and found that:

  • An estimated 50 gallons of acidic waste contaminated with metals had leaked from a corroded container stored next to a railroad line. The container was incompatible with the wastes stored in it;
  • the company had not labelled or marked 42 containers of hazardous wastes with hazardous waste labels and collection start dates;
  • the company did not close two containers of hazardous waste while in storage; and
  • the company did not have certain employee training documents.

All are violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which governs the storage and handling of hazardous wastes.

"This is an example of poor waste management practices leading to an environmental release," said Amy Zimpfer, acting director of the EPA's Waste Division in the Pacific Southwest. "Through this action, EPA will ensure that all contamination is cleaned up and will hold the former owners accountable."

The EPA has sent a determination of violation, a compliance order and a notice of the right to request a hearing to the company's court-appointed trustee. The compliance order seeks a penalty up to $27,500 per day per violation and requires that the former owners of Precision Specialty Metals ensure that the release is cleaned up to acceptable levels.