News | December 1, 2016

U.S. EPA Requires Plastic Manufacturer Protect Santa Clara River From Pollution

Valencia company will also recycle plastic, reducing purchases by 270 tons per year

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with Canyon Plastics, Inc. to resolve federal Clean Water Act violations. The company has corrected the deficiencies found at its facility in Valencia, Calif., and obtained a stormwater permit. In addition to paying a $19,000 penalty, Canyon Plastics has committed to install new recycling equipment at a cost of $292,000.

Canyon Plastics, located at 28455 Livingston Avenue, uses large quantities of small plastic pellets, known as “nurdles,” as raw material to manufacture plastic products. During a September 2015 inspection, EPA found the facility did not have a permit to discharge industrial stormwater and had not implemented practices to reduce the discharge of pollutants to local waterways. The inspectors found leaked or spilled nurdles throughout the facility’s waste management area and loading docks, and a lack of containment systems such as mesh screens within storm drain inlets. These deficiencies likely resulted in nurdles polluting Halsey Canyon Creek, a tributary to the Santa Clara River.

“The Santa Clara River is home to the endangered Southern California steelhead trout, and plastic pollution further degrades their habitat,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Canyon Plastics must install the necessary controls and operate in a way that prevents polluted runoff from reaching the river.”

Nurdles are plastic beads about 1/5 of an inch in diameter. They are widely used in manufacturing and contribute to the growing problem of plastic debris in the nation’s inland and coastal waters. Once nurdles wash into storm drains and out to open water, they can be eaten by fish, birds and other wildlife. Ingested plastic can displace food in the animals’ stomach, and may lead to starvation. In the marine environment, plastic debris has been found to absorb persistent, toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans and have been shown to travel up the food chain.

As part of the settlement, Canyon Plastics will spend $292,000 to purchase and install new equipment that will recycle plastic scraps generated at its facility and use them as raw material for some of its product lines. The new reuse system will reduce the purchase of new plastic by an estimated 270 tons per year.

Under the Clean Water Act, plastic manufacturers are required to obtain authorization under the State’s industrial stormwater permit to discharge stormwater to surface waters. The permit requires the installation of controls and use of best management practices to prevent or minimize the discharges of pollutants in runoff from their operations. Such discharges may contain pollutants such as plastic resin pellets, flakes or powders.

“The Regional Board is pleased to work with U.S. EPA to eliminate discharges of trash and plastics given their significant impacts on fish and wildlife”, said Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board Chair Irma Munoz.  “The Santa Clara River is a precious natural resource for our region, and compliance with the industrial stormwater permit in all of our watersheds is crucial to protecting aquatic life from harmful plastic nurdles.”

Today’s action is subject to a 30-day public comment period that ends on January 3, 2017. To provide public comments, or for more information, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/ca/canyon-plastics-inc-proposed-settlement

For more information on the stormwater permits under the Clean Water Act, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/npdes/npdes-stormwater-program 

SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency