Sims makes progress, town sanctions remain

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While Sims Metal Management has made progress in addressing residents’ complaints of explosions, environmental concerns and quality of life issues, restrictions placed on the company’s recycling operations by the Town Council last month will remain in effect.

In January, following multiple complaints from nearby neighborhoods, the council mandated that there be no more explosions from the facility located at 14-15 Green Earth Avenue; that heavy equipment only be operated between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.; that air quality and acoustical engineers be hired by the town at the company’s expense to monitor the situation; and that the company must abide by the engineers’ findings, that additional inspectors be hired, the noise barrier along Route 295 must be repaired, and that trucks utilizing the facility must remained covered. The company was then required to report back to the council during this month’s meeting for another show cause hearing.

“They are making progress. It’s only been four weeks, but there were a few things that happened in between that we want to solve,” said Nascenzi.

Since the January meeting, Johnston’s Building Inspector Ben Nascenzi told the council that he received loud noise complaints on Jan. 13, Jan. 19 and Feb. 9, which also included an odor complaint that was later traced to a different company. In addition, on Jan. 26 there was a reported explosion at the facility.

“I was very disappointed and very upset when I got a call on that Friday about the explosion. I thought the council made it clear that it can’t continue,” said District 1 Councilman Richard DelFino III, who represents the area. “We certainly mean that, and that’s very discouraging. I think we’re making progress on the issues, and we don’t want to go backwards.”

Nascenzi said Sims responded to the mandates by hiring two new employees – an inspector and an operator – for inbound materials on Feb 5. The company also added an additional crane for the inspection process, which they hope will help detect possible fuel tanks in loads that are the source of explosions on the site. They’ve tracked shredder operation hours, including start and stop times.

A new tarping station was created to allow for additional inspections. A pre-shredder, x-ray technology and installation of an additional sound wall are being explored. Sims also made repairs to the existing wooden sound barrier along Route 295, which was in disrepair. The company also wishes to lobby the Department of Transportation to install a sound wall along Route 295 north.

Nascenzi explained that he hired DiPrete Engineering for an acoustical and environmental engineer, which will compile the scope of work and create a proposal for the monitoring of Sims for odor, air data for volatile compounds, dust and noise. A proposal for those services was expected to be presented on Feb. 14.

Sims requested that their normal hours of operation be reinstated, saying that it would help the process of discovering where issues may arise and how to solve them. However, that request was temporarily denied.

“I’m concerned at this point about altering the hours. I don’t think we’re there yet,” said DelFino.

Nearby neighbors addressed the council about their concerns, who then requested that Sims return during March’s council meeting to see where complaints stand and what findings are obtained from the acoustical and environmental engineers.

“Sims Metal Management is taking this very seriously and has taken these steps to work with the town to address these concerns,” said Ken Marandola of Sims’ public relations. “We are working on these issues and will continue to work with the town to address these issues.”

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