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California assigns task force to scrap metal issues

United States – The US state of California is to set up a task force to ensure safe and proper operation of scrap metal processing facilities. Officials said they had been stirred into action by incidences of environmental contamination, fires and explosions.

Hazardous metals sometimes treated by these facilities generates toxic dust that can pollute air and water, argues the state Department of Toxic Substances Control. It cited 23 incidents over the last three years in which blowtorches and shears had been used to process discarded vehicles and barrels, which it said also posed a significant fire danger.

Surging demand in Asia had drawn many new scrap recyclers to California, but many of them were known to be doing business without the appropriate permits and were operating beyond the law, the department added.

California’€™s move marked the first large-scale effort to create oversight in the scrap industry, according to the department’€™s Head of Enforcement, Brian Johnson. He hopes that putting in place a specialist team will allow existing regulatory agencies, including the fire authorities, to collaborate more effectively.

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