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Consent Decree Secured to Curb Air Pollution at Flint Scrap Metal Recycler R.J. Torching

LANSING – On December 4th, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), alongside the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the Michigan Department of Attorney General (DAG) announced a settlement reached with alleged industrial polluter R.J. Torching, with sources in both Flint and Battle Creek. The consent decree, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, mandates significant air contamination reduction measures and installations at the scrap metal recycling plant in Flint, and stipulates $150,000 in civil penalties against the company to settle alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act, following years of state and federal actions to address visible emissions of inhalable metallic particulate matter. 

“I am grateful my Department and EGLE could partner with the federal Department of Justice and EPA to secure this proposed settlement to put an end to these many and significant alleged environmental violations,” said Nessel. “In communities already disproportionately burdened by environmental injustice, from historic industrial legacies to current-day emission loads, we must remain vigilant to enforce the laws that protect the people and public health.” 

The facility is located in an area with environmental justice concerns, according to data from EPA’s EJSCREEN tool

Read more about the settlement and find more detailed information about this modification in the Air Quality Enforcement Factsheet

The proposed consent decree would require R.J. Torching to install a pollution capture and control system and conduct more air pollution testing and monitoring for its operation in Flint. The Flint plant has produced excess emissions of particulate matter, as well as visible emissions of inhalable metallic particulate matter.  R.J. Torching closed its Battle Creek location permanently in 2020. Prior to reaching the proposed consent decree, the EPA and EGLE alleged the scrap metal recycler, which uses high-powered torches to cut large metal objects such as automotive manufacturing machinery, violated visible emissions limitations, illegally conducted open burning, and failed to properly operate air pollution control devices. The EPA and EGLE further alleged that the company violated a 2015 settlement that mandated the use of a specified air pollution cleansing device and to comply with State requirements on visible emissions. 

The settlement is subject to a public comment period and final court approval. There will be a virtual meeting on the proposed consent decree on January 18th, 2024 from 6:00 to 7:30. Information on how to submit a public comment and participate in the public meeting is available on the Department of Justice website


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