News

Fire extinguished at Sims metal recycling in Redwood City

A two-alarm fire at a metal recycling plant in Redwood City this morning has been extinguished, according to the Redwood City Fire Department.

Although the smell of smoke and burning plastic was reported as far south as Mountain View, a fire marshal said.

The blaze at Sims Metal Management -- the second fire in as many months at 699 Seaport Blvd. -- started after the sound of a small explosion was reported by plant workers at about 12:50 a.m., Redwood City Fire Marshal Jim Palisi said.

The fire sparked in a stockpile of "light iron" recyclables, such as discarded appliances. Embers ignited a second smaller spot fire that was quickly extinguished, he said.

The primary blaze, which sent a large plume of smoke into the air, burned for more than eight hours before being controlled as of about 9:45 a.m., Marshal Palisi said.

No injuries were reported.

Officials advised any residents in the area who smell smoke to stay indoors with their doors and windows closed, though the advisory was only issued as a precaution, Marshal Palisi said.

Seaport Boulevard reopened at about 8 a.m. after shutting down for more than seven hours, although public access to the recycling facility remains closed.

On Nov. 10, a fire at the same facility burned in a pile of heavy recyclables and took more than seven hours to control.

Sims Metal Management issued a statement this morning about the fire:

"In coordination with public officials, Sims will thoroughly investigate what could have caused this explosion and fire, including sources of the material in the stockpile. No cause has yet been ruled out."

The company said the timing of the two fires a month apart "raises concerns" and said new policies were implemented after last month's blaze, including reducing stockpile sizes and separating light iron from auto bodies.

The previous fire on Nov. 10 ignited a heap of crushed cars and other large material, causing several agencies to issue shelter-in-place alerts to residents. Nobody was injured.

Marshal Palisi said of the Nov. 10 fire, "With any recycling center that breaks apart materials with machinery, there will be heat generated by friction."

"We'll never know the exact ignition source -- it's not like a building fire -- there's no definite area of ignition to pinpoint. But we know it wasn't natural, not arson and not deliberately set," he said.

Firefighters also battled a blaze at the same recycling center in April 2007 and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a public nuisance violation due to the large quantities of contaminates that annoy or cause a nuisance to the public, according to BAAQMD spokesman Ralph Borrmann.

— Bay City News Service

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by member
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 17, 2013 at 9:21 am

Enough of this poison in the air, shut them down if they cant operate safely


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2013 at 10:01 am

I didn't notice it yet in Midtown when I left this morning,
but by the time I got to Sunnyvale at 9:45 the air smelled
pretty foul. Yes, time to consider shutting them down or
restructuring them under adult supervision.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SHUT IT DOWN
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 17, 2013 at 10:47 am

SHUT IT DOWN!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 17, 2013 at 10:50 am

Posting from up on Sand Hill Road (SLAC):this is the first I can remember actually feeling nauseous from polluted air, and that's just from walking between buildings. We are generally spoiled with bay area air quality despite our growing density of population. Ten days straight of 'spare the air' already and this comes along. Seems like a heads up with particular attention to this company.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Protest
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 17, 2013 at 10:52 am

Protest at Sims Seaport Redwood City to shut it down.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Works at Port of RWC
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 17, 2013 at 10:58 am

The Port of Redwood City appears to rent space to heavy dirty industry tenants who are incapable of abiding by clean air rules.

After several years of an open air construction material recycling plant operating, they finally vacated after tenants at the office complex if was next to complained to various agencies. They never but the enclosed space they were supposed to.

Might be good to look at the Port Commissioners's complicity.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Neighbour
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 17, 2013 at 11:06 am

At least file a complaint on BAAQMD.gov everyone!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SHUT IT DOWN
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 17, 2013 at 11:10 am

If you Google Fire SIMS recycling you will find numerous fires at their plants all over the world. This is the 2nd one at the RWC Port in 2 months ... BAAQMD is obviously not doing enough. Sims should be shut down.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by The Whole Thing Smells
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2013 at 11:19 am

Redwood City apparently permits them, inadequately regulates them, and then collects the taxes but the rest of us have to breath the air. How do the Redwood City's neighbors get a say in this? SHUT THEM DOWN.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by It Stinks
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2013 at 11:23 am

This location is no longer the place for this type of heavy, polluting industry. Shut them down now.

Redwood City needs to get with the times. They are lagging on any logical plan for their "Port."

They publicize all the money going into restoring Bair Island nature preserve 100 yards across the channel and then permit a polluting industry. What a joke and bad neighbor you are Redwood City.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 17, 2013 at 11:33 am

Enough of this. They had a fire last month too, and a couple before that. I didn't smell it in Palo Alto this morning, but it reeks off Highway 85 going toward Los Gatos and it's terribly smokey. They were also leaking high levels of lead into the Bay...they need to be SHUT DOWN!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ronan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 17, 2013 at 11:46 am

I agree shut this place down, it's a danger to the environment and too near heavily populated cities


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Reece Amant
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 17, 2013 at 11:47 am

They do need to be shut down.
There needs to be a thourough review of their processes and procedures.
They also need to bear the cost of the resources they are utilizing due to incompetence. Pathetic management, both in Sims and Redwood City. The amount of poisons leakng into the ground and water is unacceptable. The amount of poisons entering the air from numerous fires is also unacceptable.
I call on our elected and appointed representatives to stand up and do something. Earn your paycheck or get out of the way so someone else can do it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 17, 2013 at 11:55 am

I was surprised to read an article in the NY Times about a SIMS major project in New York City. This is a very big company. They should be able to move out of Redwood City and up to a more industrialized section of the bay for their operation. They are shipping the metal parts to China.
There is no reason that Redwood City at this point in their development and master plan should have such a risky business in this area. It is a super fund site at this time and will require a lot of clean-up before it can be re-usued for a new business or housing. Sims should pay for the clean-up of toxic materials. There should be a ferry terminal at part of this location.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Richard
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 17, 2013 at 11:56 am

This is unbelievable. Also, please take note of the fact that despite assurances that air quality data would be released, there has been absolutely no public follow up on the fire that occurred 5 weeks ago. This is completely and totally ridiculous, given that there exists common, off-the-shelf technology capable of doing air quality analysis in real time. I think it's safe to say that Redwood City's government does not value the public safety/health of Pensinsula residents above the tax revenue from Sims.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ironic
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2013 at 12:12 pm

December 17 is a "spare the air" day, so don't even think about hanging out by your fireplace tonight. Meanwhile, Sims can poison us all with impunity. Whatever hand slap they received last month was not much of a deterrent.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scott
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 17, 2013 at 1:19 pm

What will it take to shut this place down?! Obviously, Redwood City will not take the appropriate action and BAAQMD is not responsive. Who else is there? Something has to be done.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Complain to RWC Port
a resident of Atherton
on Dec 17, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Please send an email to Executive Director Michael Giari of the Port of Redwood City to complain about the pollution coming from Sims Recycling.

His email address is: Mgiari@redwoodcityport.com

Thanks


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Realistic
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 17, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I am totally amazing as the crazy comments that people are posting. This scrap yard takes YOUR waste (be it metal) and does a very difficult process to make it into raw material so it can be re-used again saving on real raw materials. Sims works very hard not to have fires since the fires put them in the cross-hairs of those who have no understanding what goes on in the recycling process. Compared to other recycling companies, they run the cleanest yards. Still bad things happen. One battery left in a car or other item could cause this. I'm sure you would all be happy if Sims was not there, but the streets would be full of this material that is now at the Sims facility. It is a shame how you all have reacted. Rather than help or show support, all you want to do is demand the Action YOU want. I hope you never have a fire at your homes (you would pollute and then others would say what an awful person you are).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Get Realistic
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm

The strets would be full of metal if the yard were shut down? Really?

You really think people are against recycling? That is nonsense. There are better places to do it than right on the bay in the middle of a population center precisely because of the problems we are seeing.

They run the cleanest yards? That is a scary thought given all the problems they have.
[Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmm
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Realistic .... an accident is an accident. Sims however is continually catching fire. Twice now in one month. Yes accidents happen, but if you research the number of fires at Sims recycling around the world, you will find that they happen regularly. This is not a small company, but a world wide corporation.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Shame
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 17, 2013 at 3:08 pm

It's an accident if it happens once. It is mismanagement and negligence if it happens multiple times.

And it's a shame if those in authority don't shut them down once and for all so our kids don't have to breathe their hazardous fumes.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hamish
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 17, 2013 at 3:14 pm

I tend to agree with you Realistic..... Not to recycle would certainly be a step backwards. Not in my back yard is what I am hearing. As companies in this industry go these guys seem to be more professional than most and seem to try to do things right.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Skeptical
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 17, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Seeing that there are many people who hate Sims because of the previus fire, I hope the officials look hard to see if this was arson caused by someone who wants to put Sims out of business.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nancy in Saratoga
a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2013 at 3:29 pm

The smell has made it down to Saratoga. It's awful. I noticed it hours ago. I just took my dogs out and it still stinks out there. So much for Spare the Air.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 17, 2013 at 3:37 pm

...smells as far south as my San Jose office.

I grew up in Cleveland in the '60s and '70s and came here to get away from exactly this same contamination.

Our property values will decline if these types of accidents become common.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by 100% bicycle commuter
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 17, 2013 at 4:02 pm

I don't know about this company in particular, but fires I think are part of the hazards of industrial recycling. Google "metal recycling -redwood" (with "-redwood" to get rid of all the hits on this fire) to see what I mean. Do the same with "-sims" to see that other companies have the same problem.

But metal recycling is very important to us as a civilization, so we must accept and control this hazard. Unless we all pledge to stop using metals and plastics, we have to accept that recycling of these materials is the best thing we can do to complete the use cycle.

Kudos to the firefighters for containing the fire. Let us keep regulation stringent and effective, and where it is not, improve it. And let us recognize that we need recycling centers, including right here in the Bay Area.

This is a teachable moment, folks. We don't get to use iPhones and cars with impunity. Let's all learn that physics has its say and respect that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by DAMN!!!
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 17, 2013 at 4:05 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by skulk
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2013 at 4:41 pm

a ''ufo'' was seen skulking over palo alto in the cool eve...just when we turned around to see if we could find one. it showed up in five seconds. good luck,evil polluters...we are watching you...we know kazak so we dont lie.you dont mess with mayans. we are in direct contact with starships.your time is over.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by J
a resident of Los Altos
on Dec 17, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Smelled it all day in Los Altos and can still smell it at 4:30. Gave me a headache and burning in the back of my throat and I'm a healthy adult. Very scary to not have any info on what toxins I'm breathing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2013 at 5:42 pm

@ realistic

We did not sign up to be poisoned in the process.

Refineries are allowed to refine oil but not have fire every fews weeks!

How can we exert pressure to have this junkyard closed? That's what is required at this point.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Carlito Ways
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 17, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Today the air quality was like being in China's major cities.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 17, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Had burning throat and coughing on and off all day.

This place needs to go, and soon.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2013 at 8:23 am

Fine them heavily, and shut them down permanently. Kind of a no brainer to me ... what is wrong with this place?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2013 at 8:40 am

Actually, we in Palo Alto better be very careful about demanding that Redwood City close this place down - because the way the Palo Alto City Council is they will probably allow them to move to the Palo Alto Baylands. FIRE THE CITY COUNCIL, and start demanding competent government.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm

I understand that some of the smoke was from a forest fire in a park near Big Sur. This park has had forest fires before, too. How reckless and irresponsible to let your forests burn over and over! They should be fined and the park should be closed and the trees should be moved far, far away so that when they burn their smoke won't bother me.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dick
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 18, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Forests aren't full of heavy metals and hazardous materials. So don't be silly.

If you want to talk silly, maybe the forest should replaced with a "recycling" facility. It would be the green thing to do based on some of the comments here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Smokey
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Smokey the Bear says: "Only you can prevent metal fires."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by hoss
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm

effects like maybe slight tremulosness paralytic feeling.thats what was noticed last time. remember, petrochemicals are fat soluble,so you cannot ''wash out'' those chemicals.they are dissolved in your fat cells. ''stuck in the middle with you''. build up,then you get sensitivity ''allergy'' for life ,no cure.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sick again
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 18, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I wondered why I had an asthma attack that morning! This is the off-season for daytime asthma. Nighttime asthma, due to fireplace smoke, is another story.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 18, 2013 at 6:00 pm

I had to go over the HWY 92 bridge around 3:30 and you could not see the water until beyond the midpoint. The air was sick. SIMS is a carcinogen producer. The products they are scrapping are being shipped to China. they can move their facility up to a more industrial section of the bay and in the process clean-up and upgrade their equipment. They are in a too heavily populated area right now, There is going to be a high rise on 101 where the Malibu raceway was in Redwood City - lots of new growth here - SIMS has to go.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by cleaning up messes left by others
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 19, 2013 at 5:37 am

The true source of "blame" in this fire? The car manufacturers and electronics manufacturers who created this toxic stuff that's hard to recycle. Moving SIMS to another location doesn't solve the problem -- the stuff that Bay Area consumers have discarded still has to be recycled, and moving it just shifts the risk to a poorer area that didn't even buy this stuff.

Yes, SIMS or another recycler should manage itself better, but if you don't want toxic stuff spewing into the air, put pressure on manufacturers to make stuff that isn't an environmental disaster.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Won't work
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 19, 2013 at 6:25 am

Considering how far the smoke plume went(southern Santa Clara valley and beyond), moving them a bit farther up the bay won't help us one iota if it catches fire again. Just sayin'


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 19, 2013 at 11:05 am

There needs to be a resolution to the problem that we are being poisoned. The ground, air, and surrounding ocean are being poisoned. There is no reason that a large population of people need to be subjected to this type of cancer producing toxic activity. The EPA and other government agencies should be moving in here.
I sit in on the Moffett Field Restoration meetings that are spending a lot of government money cleaning up the toxic waste - and now it is moving under the freeway in the ground water to MV surrounding areas. There are consequences to mismanagement of toxic waste.

A similar problem can occur in RWC where contaminated ground water will move inland. It will impact the city in total. Don't throw up your hands and say you can't stop it.
You are selling off the welfare of RWC for this one business.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Shut It
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 19, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Shut them down.


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