Visalia recycling facility fined $65,000 for contaminating soil

84 Recycling in Visalia and Hanford pleads guilty to nine charges of mismanaging hazardous waste

@TheSunGazette

HANFORD, VISALIA – California is fining a local recycling company for contaminating soil at its Visalia facility.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced in early March that Vrede Recycling Inc. will pay $65,000 in fines for its failure to properly handle hazardous waste from appliances and other materials during processing. Owners of Vrede Recycling, doing business as 84 Recycling, were sentenced for misdemeanor charges in Kings County in February, and will also pay fees and perform community service. The Kings County District Attorney’s Office, in partnership with the California District Attorneys Association, prosecuted the case, which included guilty pleas to nine misdemeanors.

An investigation by DTSC’s Office of Criminal Investigations found the company did not follow proper recycling procedures, and as a result contaminated soil with used oil, toxic levels of heavy metals such as lead and mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at its facilities in Visalia and Hanford.

As part of the sentencing, the facility operators agreed to remove contaminated soil stockpiled at the Visalia facility. They will also implement a dust suppression plan at both locations and investigate and remove contamination that might be present at the Hanford location.

The small, family business specializing in scrap metal recycling, property clean ups, roll off services, greenwaste and woodwaste disposal as well as concrete washing. 84 Recycling is bonded and is a certified contractor, certified appliance recycler and a certified destruction facility for NRCS tractors.

The year-long investigation stems from DTSC’s Enhanced Enforcement in Vulnerable Communities Initiative, which protects California’s most vulnerable and environmentally burdened communities. The environmental justice initiative also deters recycling companies from taking shortcuts by bypassing crucial hazardous waste laws that protect the public and environment from the dangers of harmful materials found in discarded appliances.

DTSC led the investigation in cooperation with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Kings and Tulare county environmental health departments.

The Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) is a special investigation unit within DTSC consisting of peace officers, scientists, and a computer forensics specialist who investigate criminal misconduct involving hazardous waste in California. OCI is the only criminal investigations unit within the California Environmental Protection Agency.

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