In the 20th victory for Baykeeper’s Bay-Safe Industry Campaign, Sims Metal Management in San Jose recently agreed to keep contaminated runoff from flowing into nearby storm drains that empty into the Guadalupe River, and then into San Francisco Bay. The agreement is the result of Baykeeper’s letter notifying Sims about the company’s pollution, and will protect the Bay from pollutants that include oil, grease, aluminum, iron, zinc, copper, and lead.
Our Bay-Safe Industry Campaign targets the widespread problem of illegal rainy-season runoff that flows into San Francisco Bay from Bay Area industrial facilities. We have now secured legally-binding agreements requiring cleanup by 20 industrial facilities that had been allowing significant amounts of toxic substances to run off into the Bay.
Sims Metal Management is a large recycler of metals and electronics, with over 250 locations on five continents. At the 14-acre San Jose facility, Sims receives, stores, processes, and sells scrap metals, including iron and steel.
Sims worked cooperatively with Baykeeper to take quick action toward reducing the San Jose facility’s pollution of the Bay. The company will install filtration units that capture and remove pollutants before storm water leaves the site. Sims will also prevent any storm water from flowing off some areas of the facility, and will instead collect the water and use it to control dust. In heavy rainfall, Sims may also filter out pollutants from the storm water from these areas before allowing it to flow off the site. In addition, Sims may begin storing overflow recyclable and scrap materials in closed containers to keep rain from coming into contact with pollutants.
During the rainy season, Sims will be required to test its runoff for pollutants. If the runoff is still contaminating the river and the Bay, Sims will evaluate further action, including building more overhead coverage to keep metals out of the rain and adding more advanced filtration.
Sims is one of nine recycling facilities where Baykeeper has secured cleanup agreements that are curbing pollution of San Francisco Bay. Metal recycling facilities provide a valuable environmental service by diverting solid waste from landfills and allowing a finite natural resource to be reused. But pollution from the recycling activities, if left unchecked, can undermine the value of what they do. Sims’ new agreement to reduce runoff pollution will help bring its operations in line with the company’s overall commitment to social responsibility and environmental sustainability.
In addition to legal action against facilities found to be polluting the Bay, Baykeeper’s Bay-Safe Industry Campaign includes outreach and education to industrial facilities, and advocacy for tighter regulations on industrial storm water.