Lawsuit (267817)

City Attorney Mike Feuer has announced a lawsuit against a metal recycling company for allegedly creating health and safety hazards at Jordan High School in South Los Angeles.

The complaint filed by Feuer’s Environmental Justice Unit alleges that S&W Atlas Iron and Metal Co. Inc., which operates at 10019 S. Alameda St., is a public nuisance.

The lawsuit alleges that the facility allows 20-foot-tall piles of scrap metal, described by the Feuer’s office as “massive scrap metal mountains,” within 10 feet of the school’s border, in violation of the city’s 50-foot buffer rule between the facility and the campus.

The lawsuit also alleges nearly two dozen other violations within the buffer zone, including the storage of metal and hazardous materials.

According to the lawsuit, the facility is also responsible for fumes and excessive noise and has a history of environmental and building and safety law violations.

“It’s completely unacceptable that the Jordan High School community lives under a constant threat of being hit by sharp metal objects emanating from its dangerous next-door neighbor. School officials actually had to cordon off part of the athletic field out of fear that students or staff could be injured when they return this month,” Feuer said.

“With students back on campus very soon, it’s imperative that they and school staff be safe—from the metal shards, the mountain of scrap, the noxious fumes, the noise—all that we allege here. Atlas Metal has had more than enough time during the pandemic shutdown to prevent these threats from endangering the school. Now we’re intervening.”

Feuer’s office alleges eight times in 2020 in which metal fragments were launched onto the campus, including one instance in which a six-inch shard launched 1,500 feet into the air from a military device landed at the school, resulting in an evacuation.

In anticipation of students returning to in-person learning, the school fenced-off large sections of its campus out of concern or students’ safety due to the metal recycling company’s operations, Feuer’s office said.

According to Feuer’s office, the facility has been subject to numerous enforcement actions, lawsuits and orders by regulatory agencies, governing bodies and courts, including the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Health Hazardous Materials Division, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the U.S. District Court.

Feuer also alleges that Atlas Metal was notified of the dangers and unlawful practices, but failed to abate them. The lawsuit seeks abatement of the nuisance, a permanent injunction and civil penalties.