For Immediate Release
December 23, 2013
Public Communication & Engagement Manager
(O) 650.780.7305/(C) 650.273.3099
City of Redwood City
Press Conference: December 23, 2013
Redwood City Secures Safeguards in Response to Recent Sims Fires
Redwood City, Calif. -- The following media statement was shared by Redwood City Mayor Jeff Gee during a press conference held today to discuss the outcome of last week's meeting with Sims where the City outlined a number of requirements for Sims to follow in order to remain in operation.
"Hello everyone. I am Mayor Jeff Gee, and I want to thank all of you for coming out on such short notice to attend this press conference especially just before the holidays.
As you are all aware, the Redwood City community has suffered two recent fires at the Sims Metal Recycling facility at 699 Seaport Blvd just five weeks apart from each other. The first recent fire was on Sunday, November 10th, and the second was last week on Tuesday, December 17th. Although our firefighters quickly moved into action and extinguished the fires, smoke had reached not only the Southern part of our County, but our neighboring counties -- Santa Clara County and Alameda County.
To attempt to explain how regrettable these fires have been and the City's frustration and concern over the two recent fires would be a challenge to put into words. The City's number one priority is the health of our citizens. That is why immediately after the Fire, our City Manager and Fire Chief began working with SIMS to determine what immediate measures could be taken with SIMS Metal Management to protect the community and guard against any more fires while we and other agencies complete our investigations.
After the November 10, 2013 fire, Sims has reportedly collaborated with regional authorities such as the Air Quality District, EPA and the San Mateo Environmental Health Department to implement measures for fire prevention such as reducing stockpile size, improving fire breaks, and implementing infrared monitoring of stockpiles.
Clearly with a second fire five weeks later, those measures did not prove to be enough. The fire that broke out approximately 1am the morning of Tuesday, December 17th drained resources, put our firefighters in harm's way, and put smoke into our community and beyond once again. The ongoing threat of additional fires had to be addressed immediately.
The day of the second recent fire, City Manager Bob Bell issued a letter to Sims directing them to meet with Fire Chief Skinner immediately. During the meeting on December 18th, Chief Skinner gave Sims a number of directives to follow in order to increase safety if they wanted to remain open in the short term. Sims responded with a list of previous and additional immediate safety actions.
In response to that letter, City Manager Bob Bell made clear that the City needed time to meet with other governmental agencies regarding their investigations; their regulatory roles in overseeing the company; and to identify operational changes these agencies may require SIMS to enact. He also advised SIMS that these steps would take a minimum of 60 days to complete. He reiterated, in the meantime, to stay open during these 60 days, Sims must meet a number of requirements that I will list for you.
The 60 day period - will begin on Monday, December 23, 2013 and run through February 21, 2014. If after the 60 days the City decides this agreement may be extended, we would advise Sims in writing.
· The first requirement relates to staffing - the City will require that Sims have 3 qualified operators at their facility 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If they fall below the minimum staffing requirement Sims will halt operation and notify the City immediately. Sims will also notify the City when it has again satisfied this staffing requirement and reinstated operations.
· Second, The City reserves the right to review the qualifications of all operators, contractors and subcontracts at the Sims facility upon request.
· Third, SIMS will cooperate fully with any City inspections, scheduled or unscheduled, as the City deems necessary. These inspections will be both frequent and random.
· Fourth, Sims will immediately report any hazardous condition, fire, industrial injury or illness to the City.
Following ongoing exchanges between the City and Sims, late Friday, we finalized discussions and Sims agreed in writing to all of our stipulations. As long as they comply with the City's requests, other regulatory agencies allow them to remain open and there are no new issues that arise in the next 60 days, the City will not pursue our options for halting their operation. During this period, the City in collaboration with regional authorities, will evaluate the short and long term future of Sims in Redwood City.
We are confident that our stringent requirements will increase safety at Sims and keep our community safe until the full investigation is completed and our thorough evaluation progresses.
We thank our residents and our neighbors for their patience with a process we feel is in the best interest of our community, and we vow to pursue this evaluation to its conclusion, at which time, we are determined to make good decisions based on full facts and thorough review.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share this statement with you. And now I will turn it back over to our City Manager Bob Bell."