Senate OKs Limitations on Shredding of Junked Autos

Times Staff Writer

--The Senate voted final 33 to 6 approval and sent to Gov. George Deukmejian on Friday a bill that sets out strict procedures for the disposal of marginally hazardous waste that results from the shredding of dismantled automobiles.

The measure by Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach) originally was strongly supported by shredders and opposed by conservationists. But as it left the Legislature, the heavily amended proposal was embraced by the environmentalists and only given lukewarm support by the industry.

Bergeson said her bill is needed because stockpiled shredder waste is a threat to public health and a fire hazard.

The bill would allow the eight California companies that make recycled steel to dispose of the fine metal residue in landfills intended for ordinary household garbage.

The waste product, left from autos that are shredded after they have been dismantled for usable parts, contains slightly unacceptable levels of the contaminant lead oxide. As such it is classified as hazardous in California, forcing some producers to ship it out of state for disposal.


Originally, shredders sought a bill that would have done little more than reclassify shredder waste as non-hazardous and allow its disposal in common landfills.

But when Bergeson made numerous environmental protection changes to protect against potential ground water contamination from lead oxide leaking from the dumps, industry backers cooled toward the bill and environmental groups became its strongest supporters.

Bergeson introduced the bill to free Southern California shredders from conflicting requirements of state and local agencies.

The state Department of Health Services, which has begun to question the appropriateness of classifying the waste as hazardous, has been willing for more than a year to allow shredder dumping in ordinary landfills.

But regional water officials in Southern California have not been willing to allow dumping in municipal landfills without extraordinary measures to ensure that the lead oxide does not seep into underground water tables.

Some senators complained that Bergeson’s bill would add to an already confused situation.

Sen. William Campbell (R-Anaheim) said it was foolish for the Legislature to declare such waste non-hazardous “when you put it in the dump” but consider it hazardous when it is stored and shipped.

“The more I read the bill, the more confused I get,” said Sen. Ralph C. Dills (D-Gardena).

Dills said the state’s largest shredder, the Hugo Neu-Proler Co. on Terminal Island, has recently developed a new chemical process that removes all pollutants from shredder waste. Dills said also the company has spent millions of dollars transporting shredder waste to an Indian reservation in Arizona, while a competitor in Anaheim “has 40,000 tons of the shredder material . . . and it’s just sitting there.”

Representatives of Hugo Neu-Proler have charged that Bergeson’s bill, which is sponsored by Orange County, was designed to let its Anaheim competitor, Orange County Steel Salvage, dispose of its stockpiled shredder waste cheaply and thereby gain a competitive advantage.