The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a $1.3 million fine to an aluminum recycling company for violating its air quality permit.
The fine, announced Thursday, is the largest air quality penalty the agency has issued.
The state found Norway-based company Hydro Extrusion, which melts down aluminum scrap so it can be recycled into new products, violated several conditions of its permit. The company’s facility located in The Dalles was processing unclean coated aluminum scrap for more than a year.
According to the DEQ, processing this type of material is not allowed under the facility’s permit.
“What it’s permitted to melt down is what’s considered clean charge, which is material that does not have oil or grease or paints or other coatings on it,” DEQ’s Laura Gleim said.
The DEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discovered the violations during an unannounced visit in April 2019.
“DEQ expects industrial facilities to adhere to the rules that are in place to protect the health of Oregon’s people and environment, DEQ Compliance and Enforcement Manager Kieran O’Donnell said. “Hydro Extrusion chose not to follow these rules, and DEQ is holding the facility accountable to ensure in the future it operates in full compliance with environmental laws.”
In addition to melting the prohibited materials, Hydro Extrusion was not properly tracking and monitoring materials they received to the DEQ.
“They are supposed to have a tracking and monitoring program for the material that is coming in because its recycled material, it’s material that has been previously used, for instance it might like it might have been on a car,” Gleim said.
Hydro Extrusion may appeal the alleged violations within 20 days of receiving the penalty notice.
The company did not respond to a request for comment.