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Colton to reconsider permit for controversial AIM recycling center

Resident Gem Montes addresses the Colton Planning Commission during their meeting on Tuesday September 12, 2023.
Anthony Victoria
Resident Gem Montes addresses the Colton Planning Commission during their meeting on Tuesday September 12, 2023.

The City of Colton will reconsider a conditional use permit for the controversial American Iron & Metal (AIM) recycling center on M Street just south of Interstate 10.

After an hour of discussion and questioning on Tuesday night, the Planning Commission made the unanimous decision to conduct a formal public hearing on November 14 for further review. This was after commissioners and residents in attendance raised concerns about AIM’s operations.

Local resident Veronica Gonzales was at the meeting.

“The noise starts at 5 o'clock in the morning. Just think of shredding a car. It isn’t quiet, it’s very loud,” Gonzales said. “The odors will come out early in the morning and then if you call AQMD, the odors are done by 7.”

The smell she complained about was an oily stench.

AIM has been under scrutiny because of their handling of waste materials. Last December, the California Department of Substance Controls (DTSC) filed several complaints against the company and its predecessor Ecology Recycling Services for things like failing to maintain hazardous waste containers, wastewater pumps and smokestack filters.

The commission and residents were also alarmed by a fire at the AIM recycling site in August. According to city Planning Manager Mario Suarez, the cause of the fire is still being reviewed.

AIM representative Richard Mondel told the Planning Commission that his company is working to get the situation under control.

“We acknowledge that in the change of management that happened a few years ago there was definitely a lack of communication and the excellent relationship we had for many many years did break down,” he said. “We want to open up those lines of communication back up, we want to be an open book to you guys and we want to serve the city well.”

While Gonzales and several other residents – including environmental justice advocates – prefer for the center to be shut down, she is satisfied with the Planning Commission’s actions so far.