Dec 24, 2014

Grimmel Industries' waterfront scrap metal junkard proposal - Peter Taber on why it's a terrible idea for Searsport.

By Peter Taber, Wild Maine Times.

When many older junked cars are shredded, hard-to-reach mercury switches including mercury switches used as part of brake anti-skid systems are frequently not removed even though this is in violation of state law and the U.S. Clean Water Act. These switches get torn apart in the shredder and their extremely toxic contents spattered freely about the scrap pile.

This accounts for most of the unacceptably high levels of inorganic mercury that for the past dozen years have been detected entering the Piscataqua River at Portsmouth, NH., near Grimmel Industries' waterfront scrap metal piles. This mercury is in addition to unacceptable levels of other scrap metal contaminants — among them polychlorinated biphenyls, aluminum, copper, iron, lead, and zinc — entering the waters of the United States in runoff from Grimmel Industries' Portsmouth operations.

On three occasions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has gone after Grimmel Industries (pdf) imposing civil fines totaling over half a million dollars for repeated instances of toxic waste dumping and reporting violations. The behavior of owner Gary Grimmel of Topsham, Maine, in continuing these violations with an apparent sense of impunity suggests he made a cold-blooded cost-benefit analysis and concluded the EPA fines were merely an acceptable cost of doing business.

What Grimmel appears to have overlooked in making his calculations is that this sociopathic behavior would cause the City of Portsmouth and the Pease Development Authority to disinvite Grimmel Industries. With his lease expired at year's end and the welcome mat in Portsmouth rolled up, Gary Grimmel is looking to a new industrial waterfront community to bring his poisonous commodity. With foreign fossil energy company Sprague Energy as his eager new landlord, that community seems to be Searsport.

The question now is has Searsport's municipal leadership learned anything over the past 40 years from being suckered in by one addle-brained pitch for irresponsible heavy industry after another.

Here's a press release from Conservation Law Foundation, which has been at the forefront in drawing attention to Grimmel Industries' activities in Portsmouth:

Here's a 2011 news article about EPA civil actions against Grimmel Industries in New Hampshire before the company subsequently was denied the opportunity to renew its lease to continue polluting the Piscataqua River:

And here's a portion of the Republican Journal account of last Tuesday's (Dec. 16) Searsport selectmen's meeting at which the board held a public hearing about but tabled action on Grimmel Industries' application to establish a junkyard on Sprague Energy's waterfront property at Mack Point in Searsport:

By Stephanie Grinnell | Dec 19, 2014
SEARSPORT — There was much discussion but little action on the part of Searsport Selectmen Dec. 16 as they addressed a junkyard application....

Grimmel Industries LLC, a scrap metal recycling company, submitted an application to open a junkyard on Mack Point, an industrial area of town. While selectmen ultimately decided to table the application, citing a need for additional information, there was some discussion.

“I want to do this right, especially since it's the first one,” Selectmen Chairman Aaron Fethke said.
Town Manager James Gillway said there are only a few criteria for selectmen to consider, including proper screening of the operations taking place on 2.5 acres. He said the application submitted by Grimmel states there will be no shredding of automobiles — a noise concern brought up by Selectman Jack Merrithew — and screening should not be an issue as the only abutter wants the business located there.

In its application, Grimmel described the operation as a marine transfer yard and estimated truck traffic to be limited to around 10 trucks, or four rail cars, per day.

Boston resident John Hassey suggested selectmen be wary and conduct due diligence prior to granting a junkyard permit to Grimmel. He noted there have been ongoing noise and environmental issues with the company's Portsmouth, N.H., location.
According to previously published reports, Pease Development Authority declined to renew a contract with Grimmel and requested the company cease operations and clean up its 3-acre site on Piscataqua River before the end of the year.
The development authority and Grimmel originally entered into a contract in Portsmouth in 2002. In 2011, the company was ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency to stop allowing runoff into the river.
According to EPA documents, “ … stormwater discharges from Grimmel's metal scrapyard operation contain metals, suspended solids and chemical oxygen demand which exceed permit benchmarks. Further the stormwater discharges contain mercury and PCBs …” The state of New Hampshire issued a warning to limit consumption of salt water fish as well as lobster, according to the EPA.

It is unclear when selectmen will next address the application.


Angela Navejas said...

This is really nice info in which you discuss about scrap metal yards which is really nice.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks Angela!

alfred said...

Scrap metal recycling makes economic sense. It also shows our responsibility to the earth and to the efficient use of our precious natural resources. If there's one positive thing that is happening in this area, it's that the trend to recycle more continues.

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