The city has filed misdemeanor criminal charges against three owners of a controversial automobile junkyard and recycling center, accusing them of operating the facility after permits were revoked, prosecutors said Wednesday.
George Adams Sr. and sons George Adams Jr. and Terry Adams, owners of Adams International Metals Corp., Pull Your Part Auto Salvage and other related companies on the site, are each charged with operating a business without necessary permits.
The City Council revoked the permits on Sept. 1, citing years of alleged city and state environmental law violations. The three are scheduled to appear in North County Municipal Court on Friday to enter pleas and for pretrial hearings, court officials said.
The Adamses have continued to operate the yard and have filed a lawsuit to block the city's closure attempt. City Atty. Jack L. White said Wednesday that because of the Adamses' suit, it might be three months or longer before the city could forcibly close the facility.
George Adams Jr. said Wednesday that the city has offered him a compromise that would leave the misdemeanor charges in place but allow the yard to remain open if he agrees to speed cleanup efforts. He said he intends to accept the offer.
"I think the city realizes that the only way to clean up this place is to work with us," he said.
Officials did not return calls late Wednesday to confirm whether such an offer has been made to the family.
At the center of the dispute is a 50,000-ton pile of waste composed of metal and foam from shredded automobiles and appliances that accumulated seven years ago.
Environmental regulators fear that cancer-causing toxins will leach from the pile into a major ground-water basin that sits below it.
There is no evidence that any toxins have reached the water table, but officials with the California Environmental Protection Agency have said that chemicals released now would not necessarily appear in the water for 10 or 15 years. The owners say that such a scenario is unlikely.
Shortly after the council voted to revoke their permits, the owners began shipping 100 tons of the waste each week to a landfill in the San Joaquin Valley. At that rate, it will take about nine years to clear the pile. The owners say the cleanup effort is costing them $10,000 a week.
George Adams Jr. said the agreement the city has reportedly offered will require the firm to ship out 200 tons of material a week, which would clear the pile in about five years.
The pile is 25 feet high and covers 1 1/2 acres of land at the facility, which is next to the Riverside Freeway, just east of Kraemer Boulevard.
As early as 1987, city and state officials began telling the owners that they would have to remove the pile. The Adamses have said they were not able to afford the $16 million it would have cost to move the pile to a toxic landfill.