Environmental justice and conservation groups filed an amicus brief in calling on the California Department of Toxic Substance Control to regulate metal shredding facilities throughout the state. Filed by Communities for a Better Environment, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, San Francisco Baykeeper and Natural Resources Defense Council, the brief alleges that the state has failed to protect local communities from harmful pollution from Schnitzer Steel’s shredding facility’s pollution in Oakland in California and other facilities in the state. NRDC attorney Lauren Phillips said “Schnitzer Steel and metal shredding facilities across the state have been allowed to pollute communities with dangerous contaminants for long enough. The State must ensure that these facilities aren’t given free passes to pollute and harm local communities.”
Schnitzer Steel produces 200,000 tons of metal residue per year that contaminates the surrounding air, water, and soil, creating health risks for the surrounding community. The pollution discharged from the facility fails to comply with the DTSC’s own Hazardous Waste Control Law, though DTSC has ignored this noncompliance for over 30 years. Schnitzer is one of six facilities DTSC has exempted, all of which are located in communities that suffer greater pollution burdens than California at large.
The filing of the amicus brief follows the re introduction of Assembly Bill 1 by Assembly member Christina Garcia, which reforms the Department of Toxic Substances Control to better protect public health. Assembly Bill 1 includes reforms to make DTSC more transparent, accountable, and protective of public health, including the creation of a governing board to oversee DTSC's performance.