The California Department of Toxic Substances Control announced Thursday that state regulators ordered Express Metals Recycling in Sun Valley to stop releasing hazardous waste, and is seeking penalties of up to $25,000 per violation.

The facility, which is operated by CSC Auto Salvage and Dismantling Inc., sorts and stockpiles metal waste, such as old appliances, for shipment to buyers. DTSC took soil samples at the site and allegedly found elevated levels of contaminants — including cadmium, lead, mercury and zinc — which can have harmful effects on people, particularly children.

“We have a responsibility to protect people and their communities from companies and industries that pollute,” said DTSC Director Meredith Williams.

“DTSC is continuing to take actions to protect all Californians from potential exposure to harmful materials stemming from the operation of metal recycling activities — especially in neighborhoods already suffering from multiple sources of pollution,” she said.

Officials said they also found roll-off bins that contained large amounts of contaminated soil and metal shredder residue that were stored without covers and without labels indicating hazardous waste. There were also piles of printed circuit boards, ballasts and compressors containing oil and various types of batteries all managed improperly.

“There’s no contaminants. There’s no way we can leak anything … we have a general working area where people drop the material and we get construction debris … and we process all that stuff and we send it out properly. There’s nothing that we don’t send out properly,” Garrett Brady, a manager at Express Metals Recycling, told City News Service.

There are homes 600 feet from the facility, and the area to the south and southeast of the facility — the Hansen Spreading Grounds — receives discharge waters from the Hansen Dam to replenish groundwater. The neighborhood of Sun Valley has some of California’s highest pollution levels, officials said.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control filed a civil complaint asking an L.A. County Superior Court judge to order the company to stop violating hazardous waste laws. The department is also seeking up to $25,000 in penalties per violation.

DTSC also filed a separate corrective action order to have the present and prior owners or operators of the facility and property determine the extent of contamination from its facility, including whether the pollution spread to ground or surface water. That order also requests that they clean it up.

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