A company that shreds scrap metal has agreed to pay the largest fine ever imposed under Rhode Island’s air pollution rules.
Under a legal settlement announced Wednesday, Sims Metal Management will pay $875,000 and install pollution control equipment at its facility in Johnston.
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office says the company didn’t get a necessary permit for the metal shredder, and has been operating it without the proper pollution safeguards since 2013.
The 7,000-horsepower device is used to chop up automobiles, old appliances and other metal items prior to recycling. Plastics, paints and other materials can be melted or burned during the process, sending potentially dangerous chemicals into the air.
The shredder is currently not operating because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Janet Coit, director of the state’s Department of Environmental Management, said the settlement avoids what could have been an expensive court case.
Sims will face more than $1 million in additional fines if it fails to meet is obligations.
In a statement, the company disputed the state’s allegations but said it agreed to the settlement anyway.
“Even though we continue to believe that we did not require the type of permit alleged in the complaint, we wanted to put this issue past us,” the company wrote.
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