Midtown Raleigh News

Raleigh officials concerned about pollution from private metal recycler

City leaders have threatened legal action against a metal recycling facility they say polluted its neighbor, but the problem is now being handled outside of court.

Raleigh’s stormwater utility department recently received a complaint about Raleigh Metal Recycling on Garner Road in Southeast Raleigh.

The department investigated the business and found an excavated water hole contaminated with diesel fuel or another petroleum substance. Workers had apparently been pumping the liquid onto a neighbor’s property.

“That’s a violation” of the city’s discharge laws, said city stormwater engineer Mark Senior. “We told them they had to stop that and clean up that water and the contaminated soil.”

The issue appeared to be headed for a court battle earlier this month. During a closed-door meeting with attorneys, the Raleigh City Council agreed to seek a judge’s order to stop Raleigh Metal Recycling from sending more hazardous waste into the city’s stormwater pipes.

But last week, city attorney Tom McCormick said he’s aiming to settle the matter without going to court.

“The company has come forward with a remedial plan,” he said. “We’re going to hold off until that’s complete.”

According to email records, Mayor Nancy McFarlane spoke with business owner Greg Brown one day after the council’s action. He told McFarlane in an email that the property has been registered as a “clean-up site” with state regulators for five years, and he said he took quick action after hearing the complaint from neighbors.

“The city came, and within hours we had their recommended contractor remove water from a small ‘holding hole/mini-stormwater pond,’” he wrote to McFarlane. “Within days we had contracted with a company to redo a water runoff path on our property. ... The city came a number of times as the work was being done, and I am told they liked what they saw.”

But Senior said there was still more work to be done. “Our big concern is harm to the adjacent property where they’ve got contaminated water on their property,” he said, noting that the pollutants could drain into nearby streams and lakes.

Raleigh Metal Recycling has agreed to finish the clean-up within several weeks.

“They’re hiring an engineer to look at an overall stormwater plan for that site,” he said, adding that no legal action will be needed “if they continue on with what they’ve indicated they’re going to do out there.”