Law Street Media

Mass. Accuses Scrap Metal Facility of Releasing Lead Into Stormwater

A scientist examining toxic waste in water.

Scientist examining toxic water samples

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts filed an environmental lawsuit in the District of Massachusetts on Wednesday alleging that Kane Scrap Iron & Metal, Inc., a business located in Chicopee, Mass. was releasing lead and pollutants from its facilities into the city’s storm drain system, far in excess of allowable levels. 

Reportedly, stormwater that has been exposed to Kane’s scrap metal facility “contains excessive amounts of lead, zinc, aluminum, iron, copper, chemical oxygen demand, and total suspended solids.” The state purported that Kane has not been monitoring stormwater discharges and it has not taken the necessary samples of stormwater. In the samples that the company did take, the complaint said the samples showed concentrations of the pollutants which were “many times higher” than the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

The complaint said that in 2019 the company’s stormwater discharges exceeded the lead benchmark by 609 percent and the zinc benchmark by 1020 percent. The state purported that the defendant’s “failure to take adequate corrective action to eliminate these excessive pollutant discharges and to otherwise properly control and monitor the quality of its stormwater” is a violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the stormwater permit issued to the company by the EPA. 

Kane’s facility is reportedly between four and five acres; the facility has scrap metals that are stored outdoors and raw materials, waste materials, and processed materials are transported around the facility, which the complaint said are, through ordinary actions of the company, scattered around the facility. The complaint contained photos showing piles of metal throughout the facility that contaminated the stormwater. 

Massachusetts claimed that this action by Kane, which allows heavy metals to enter water runoff, poses a threat to aquatic ecosystems and to human health. The state, represented by its attorney general’s office, asked the district court to require Kane to pay up to $37,500 per day that it violated the CWA before November 2, 2015, and $53,484 for each day after that date. They also asked for the defendant to be required to comply with its permit and restore the environmental quality of areas that have been damaged by its purported behaviors. 

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