Recent enforcement actions at California toxic waste sites
California increasingly relies on a small network of aging facilities to manage its hazardous waste. Some have had a history of regulatory violations and contamination on site.
• Used solvents can go to Veolia ES Technical Solutions in Azusa. The site – at which similar operations date back to the 1950s – received more than 25,000 tons of hazardous waste from shipments in 2022, the state’s tracking system shows. Veolia, whose permit expired in 2021, agreed last year to pay $275,000 as part of a consent agreement to resolve violations of state hazardous waste laws regulators identified during multiple inspections dating back to 2015.
• Another used solvent recycler, Rho-Chem in Inglewood has been the subject of six consent orders since 2013 to resolve various enforcement issues pertaining to its management of hazardous waste, state records show. The company has been at the site since the 1950s and “releases from the facility continue to exist…and have migrated to groundwater,” according to the state’s permitting database. Sampling has identified contaminants including chemicals and metals linked to cancer. The company’s permit expired in 2018.
•Clean Harbors Buttonwillow in Kern County is one of only two hazardous waste landfills in the state and its operations date back to the 1980s. The site’s permit expired in 2006. The state announced a $38,250 penalty against the company in 2014 for a toxic spill the company cleaned up before regulators could conduct testing.
•Ecobat Resource California Inc. – known as Quemetco – in the City of Industry in Los Angeles County is the last major lead-acid battery recycling company in the state. It has been operating on an expired permit since 2015. (The other large battery recycler, Exide, closed after years of complaints about its operations and that site is now the largest environmental cleanup operation in the state.) Late last year, Quemetco, whose facility has been around since 1959, agreed to pay $2.3 million to settle enforcement actions and upgrade some of its operations, state records show. That came two years after the company agreed to a $600,000 settlement for air pollution violations.