Two environmental groups have announced a settlement to eliminate polluted stormwater runoff from a Paso Robles automobile salvage yard.
In December 2014, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and the Environmental Defense Center sued A-1 Metals & Auto Salvage on Stockdale Road in federal court in Los Angeles, alleging that the facility was violating the Clean Water Act by allowing stormwater runoff polluted with such metals as copper, iron and lead to run into the Salinas River.
Under a settlement announced Tuesday, A-1 Metals agreed to eliminate all stormwater discharges from its facility, undertake significant cleanup efforts and increase monitoring pollutants.
The company also agreed to donate $25,000 to the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment to be used for water quality improvement projects in the Salinas River or Monterey Bay, according to a news release.
“This agreement will greatly benefit the health and recreation of Central Coast communities as well as species who call the Salinas River home,” said Maggie Hall, staff attorney for the EDC.
The A-1 Metals facility is used to receive, store, handle, dismantle and recycle decommissioned vehicles, equipment and automotive parts. Pollution from such facilities occurs when various pieces of automotive equipment come in contact with rainwater and flows into streams and other water bodies.
Dominic Roques with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board said the salvage facility had recorded multiple violations of water quality standards for metals up to 20 times over the limits over the past several years. However, the agency had no evidence of adverse effects due to the polluted runoff, such as fish die-offs.
The agency inspected the facility and sent letters to the salvage yard directing it to take steps to come into compliance. Due to staffing constraints, the water board first works with polluters to come into compliance before taking enforcement action, Roques said.
The agency has more than 500 industrial facilities under its purview.
As allowed by federal law, the two environmental groups opted to file their lawsuit against the salvage yard to speed up resolution of the case, Roques said.
The Salinas River flows 170 miles from San Luis Obispo County to the Monterey Bay. It is a water source for the highly productive farm fields of the Salinas Valley and is home to a variety of rare and endangered species such as steelhead trout, red-legged frogs and the tiger salamander.