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News Releases from Region 01

EPA and Rhode Island Scrap Metal Facility Resolve Clean Air Act Claims

Contact Information: 
David Deegan (
(617) 918-1017

PROVIDENCE - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and SMM New England Corporation ("SMM," aka, Sims Metal Management) a major scrap metals recycler in Johnston, Rhode Island, have reached a settlement resolving administrative penalty claims that the company allegedly violated the federal Clean Air Act.

Under the settlement, SMM will come into compliance with state and federal clean air requirements and will pay $250,000 in penalties.

"This case is an excellent example of the benefits of state and federal collaboration. Rhode Island and EPA worked together to help ensure cleaner, healthier air for citizens in and around Johnston, R.I.," said Dennis Deziel, Regional Administrator of EPA's Region 1 office. "These settlements send a strong message that all facilities are required to comply with the Clean Air Act and state permitting regulations to control harmful air emissions."

EPA, in concert with Rhode Island's Attorney General and the R.I. Dept. of Environmental Management (RIDEM), alleged that SMM constructed a new major source of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions without securing a permit and without installing required emission controls. This is a violation of the State of Rhode Island's clean air "state implementation plan," the mechanism under which states and EPA ensure that air quality attains national health-based standards. In Rhode Island's related action, the Rhode Island Superior Court finalized a consent judgment in September 2020 under which SMM will pay a separate penalty to the State and will take all steps necessary to come into compliance with air permitting and air pollution control requirements.

"The EPA's action today acknowledges that the Rhode Island negotiated settlement protects Rhode Islanders and appropriately resolves all of the clean air violations at this facility," said R.I. Attorney General Peter F. Neronha. "We continue to be grateful for the support EPA provided to the State to help enforce this law, which is so vital to public health and our environment."

"RIDEM is pleased with the settlement reached in this important case, and that our collective efforts with the Attorney General and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will result in the company coming into compliance with Rhode Island's Clean Air Act," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Our coordinated, federal-state partnership ensures that Johnston residents will have cleaner air to breathe and delivers a good outcome for Rhode Islanders."

The metal shredder that SMM owns and operates at its Johnston location shreds end-of-life automobiles, appliances and other light gauge recyclable metal-bearing materials. This electrically operated, 7,000 horsepower shredder generates enough heat to melt or burn the plastics, paints, and oils in the scrap metal materials, causing harmful air emissions of VOCs, particulate matter, and toxic air contaminants.

More Information: EPA Clean Air Enforcement: