On August 9, 2023, Schnitzer Steel (aka Radius Recycling) was host to yet another fire at their scrap metal facility in West Oakland. The fire’s smoke quickly spread across Oakland, reaching as far as Larkspur to the north and Milpitas to the south. However, this wasn’t the first time Schnitzer violated legal regulations, poisoning thousands of people, many of whom live in already pollution-burdened communities. WOEIP has been fighting for tighter regulation, stronger enforcement, and cleaner practices at Schnitzer Steel for as long as we’ve been neighbors.
What is Schnitzer Steel?
Schnitzer Steel (recently rebranded as Radius Recycling) is a privately-owned corporation that runs 54 scrap metal recycling plants around the country. Its 26-acre facility on the edge of West Oakland sits within two miles of more than a dozen daycare centers, eight schools, four senior housing facilities, 10 public parks, and at least four healthcare providers.
Shredding of metal generates high concentrations of Particulate Matter (PM), Black Carbon (BC), Light Fibrous Material (LFM) & heavy metals, all of which increase risk of cancer and other illnesses when released into our air.
Feedstock piles: Piles of scrap vehicles, appliances, machinery and other metals emit pollutants (Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs, Black Carbon, and toxic fluids like oil and coolant), that end up in our air and water.
Ship, truck, and rail traffic: Transporting materials in and out of the facility, and on-site cargo handling equipment, which produces diesel emissions throughout our neighborhood.
Toxic fires happen regularly at Schnitzer when piles ignite. This emits even more Black Carbon, Volatile Organic Compounds, and Particulate Matter that poison the air we breathe.
Schnitzer’s long history of violations
Schnitzer Steel is a notorious polluter with a long history of releasing illegal toxins into a historically marginalized community already overburdened by industrial pollution.
Air District issues two notices of violation in response to August 9 fire.
CA Dept. of Toxic Substances Control issues a formal enforcement action against Schnitzer requiring them to clean up their act.
Schnitzer settles with the State for $4.1 million for illegally releasing hazardous waste and harmful emissions into the West Oakland community.
Air District issues violation following a tin pile fire and Schnitzer’s violation of a no-burn day.
Air District issues violation for exceeding legal carbon emission limits.
Air District issues violation for permit violations.
Air District issues violation for a non-ferrous raw stockpile fire.
Air District issues violation for running shredder without abatement, resulting in illegal emissions.
CA Dept. of Toxic Substances Control issues violation for failure to minimize hazardous waste & accepting hazardous waste without a permit.
How did you experience the Schnitzer fire?
Help us share your lived experience with regulators and enforcement agencies. Your voice matters!