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Meredith Williams, Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2020
DTSC Reaches $825,000 Settlement with Pittsburg Steel Plant for Unauthorized Hazardous Waste Management
SACRAMENTO – The Department of Toxic Substances Control today announced that USS-POSCO Industries (UPI), based in Pittsburg, California, will pay an $825,000 penalty for mismanaging hazardous waste and illegally storing lead dust in a dilapidated building, which resulted in the release of harmful materials outside of the building.
“We are deeply concerned that UPI knowingly mismanaged hazardous waste and failed to prevent its release into the environment,” said Meredith Williams, DTSC Director. “UPI compounded the dangers to its staff, the public, and the environment each day it put off compliance with hazardous waste management requirements. This settlement makes clear that ignoring environmental laws carries heavy consequences.”
UPI allowed lead- and zinc-contaminated dust and debris to accumulate in a run-down storage area and be dispersed by wind and rain into the environment. The company also failed to use waste containers, labels, inspections, and other forms of proper waste management.
DTSC’s inspection in 2017 uncovered a run-down, walled-off portion of the building where lead- and zinc-contaminated dust and debris collected on the floor and were dispersed through the air and into the outdoors. Inside, DTSC inspectors noted broken windows, open ceilings, and bird feathers and droppings. DTSC took samples from the soil immediately surrounding the building that showed hazardous levels of lead and zinc, indicating that contaminated dust from the building entered the environment.
UPI managers instructed employees to wear personal protective equipment prior to entering the contaminated area of the building, indicating that the company was aware of the unsafe conditions and the dangers they posed to public health and the environment. The company also failed to use waste containers, labels, inspections, and other forms of proper waste management.
A follow-up inspection by DTSC in the spring of 2018 found that UPI was using tanks formerly used for acid wash baths to illegally store liquid and solid hazardous waste.
As part of the settlement, UPI agreed to perform corrective action to remediate hazardous waste releases at its facility, including the lead and zinc-contaminated dust and soil.
The $825,000 penalty also includes a payment for a Supplemental Environmental Project. The $200,000 allocation will fund the development of an online hazardous waste training course for the California Compliance School.
The complaint against UPI and settlement documents were filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court by the California Attorney General’s Office on behalf of DTSC. The court approved the settlement on December 12, 2019. The consent judgement can be viewed here.
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FOR GENERAL INQUIRIES: Contact the Department of Toxic Substances Control by phone at (800) 728-6942 or visit www.dtsc.ca.gov. To report illegal handling, discharge, or disposal of hazardous waste, call the Waste Alert Hotline at (800) 698-6942.
The mission of DTSC is to protect California’s people and environment from harmful effects of toxic substances by restoring contaminated properties, enforcing hazardous waste law, reducing hazardous waste generation, and encouraging the manufacture of chemically safer products.