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Davidson News

Fire Erupts at Redwood City Metal Recycling Facility

A fire ignited at a metal recycling facility in Redwood City on Wednesday afternoon, causing significant concern for air quality in the surrounding areas. The blaze broke out shortly before 3 p.m. at Sims Metal, located on the 600 block of Seaport Blvd. Firefighters were seen battling the fire from multiple angles, successfully extinguishing it after several hours. However, the fire generated a massive plume of smoke that drifted into neighboring areas, prompting health advisories.

Fire Erupts at Redwood City Metal Recycling Facility
Source: CBS News

Health Advisories and Air Quality Concerns

Santa Clara County Fire issued an advisory on social media platform X, warning residents, especially those sensitive to smoke, to stay indoors. ABC7 News meteorologist Sandhya Patel reported on the deteriorating air quality, noting that Purple Air sensors showed significant declines in air quality across parts of the Peninsula and South Bay. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced that inspectors are investigating the fire to assess its impact.

This incident has drawn particular attention due to Sims Metal’s history of fires and environmental issues. In 2018, a fire at the company’s Richmond facility led authorities to issue a shelter-in-place order for nearby neighborhoods due to toxic smoke. Additionally, in 2022, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) mandated Sims Metal to evaluate and remediate toxic pollution at the Redwood City facility, including addressing any impacts from a previous fire in March 2022.

Historical Environmental Issues at Sims Metal

Sims Metal Management, situated near U.S. Highway 101 by Redwood Creek, is a key player in receiving, recycling, and exporting scrap metal from local sources. However, the facility has been under scrutiny for its environmental practices. The DTSC found elevated levels of lead, zinc, and cadmium at the site, along with accumulations of light fibrous materials from metal shredding processes between 2012 and 2019. Without proper management, these materials can be dispersed offsite by wind, rain, or other factors, posing a risk to the surrounding community.

The facility’s proximity to homes, parks, schools, a trail, and parts of a wildlife refuge raises significant health concerns for nearby populations. In light of these issues, the state has emphasized the importance of Sims Metal conducting thorough assessments and remediation efforts to mitigate potential health risks.

Ongoing Investigation and Future Precautions

As the investigation into the latest fire continues, local officials and environmental agencies are closely monitoring the situation. The Redwood City incident underscores the ongoing challenges faced by metal recycling facilities in managing fire risks and environmental impacts.

Residents and environmental advocates are calling for stricter oversight and more robust safety measures to prevent future incidents. Ensuring proper management and containment of hazardous materials is crucial to protecting public health and the environment.

Fire Erupts at Redwood City Metal Recycling Facility
Source: KTVU

The recent fire at Sims Metal highlights the need for comprehensive strategies to address both immediate and long-term environmental and safety concerns at recycling facilities across the region.

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