Minimizing Environmental Impact
For Schnitzer, environmental stewardship means looking beyond the drainage pipe to consider how urban, industrial and agricultural activity affects entire environments. Through implementation/installation/adoption of new technologies and upgrades to existing facility infrastructure, we are doing our part to maintain water and land quality and minimize our environmental impact.
In fiscal 2013, Schnitzer's Johnston, RI metal recycling facility completed a significant redesign of the facility's environmental infrastructure by commissioning a state-of-the-art stormwater collection and treatment system. Previously, the facility's stormwater runoff was collected and treated through solids separation and passive oil water separators before discharging offsite. To improve the quality of stormwater discharging from the facility, we made significant environmental capital investments to upgrade the existing stormwater system. A 350,000-gallon above-ground stormwater storage tank was installed, along with four bio-retention swales and a multi-stage pump station with four submersible pumps. The new storage tank collects stormwater runoff from the facility and provides an aeration system which helps reduce oxygen demand and prevent solids from accumulating in the tank bottom. Oil-water separators remove oil and solids from stormwater before the pumping station transfers stormwater at a peak flow rate of 6,000 gallons per minute, equal to a rainfall rate of approximately one inch per hour, into a newly constructed storage tank and bio-retention swales. The bio-retention swales are elongated concrete-walled channels which operate by gravity flow to filter pre-treated stormwater before conveyance to surface water discharge points. To the untrained eye, these swales are difficult to notice as they are integrated into the native vegetation, yet remain easily accessible for frequent monitoring, maintenance and emergency overflow access.
In fiscal 2012, development of a new metals recycling facility in Woodinville, WA included restoration of five acres of wetlands adjacent to Little Bear Creek. In addition to habitat restoration, Schnitzer built a sophisticated water filtration system to collect and clean stormwater runoff from the property. The water filtration system, along with other environmental features of the new site, is minimizing our environmental impact while performing beyond environmental regulatory requirements. Design and development of the facility showcases our commitment to protecting the environment and communities of which we operate in.
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