City reaches agreement with Port Richmond scrapyard that caught fire in July

A court order approving the settlement was issued this afternoon by Judge Paula Patrick of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

On Thursday afternoon, the City of Philadelphia reached an agreement with BMJ Holdings, the company that owns Philadelphia Metal and Resource Recovery (PMRR), 2200 E. Somerset St., to pay a $125,000 fine for multiple long-term violations of the Philadelphia Fire and Property Maintenance Codes. A court order approving the settlement was issued this afternoon by Judge Paula Patrick of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. At a hearing held on Aug. 30, the city initially requested statutory fine of just over $2.7 million. PMRR was the site of a four-alarm fire in July.

“The [c]ity is pleased that the settlement provides real solutions to the neighborhood by ensuring that the junkyard can no longer be operated in a manner that hurts the community,” said Kristin Bray, Chief Deputy Solicitor of the Philadelphia Law Department’s Code Enforcement unit. “It holds the owner accountable because he faces substantial financial penalties and the shut-down of the business if he fails to follow through on his commitments.”

Violations at the property have been corrected, and under the settlement, the owner faces an immediate cease operations order and a series of escalating fines if the junkyard falls out of compliance with safety standards for pile height, access lanes and labeling of storage drums. Significant failure to comply with the settlement subjects the owner to the possibility of a $2.7 million fine.

The violations issued are related to the height of scrap piles (Philadelphia fire code mandates that piles be no higher than 20 feet), fire access lanes (the city’s fire code mandates at least 15 feet of clearance between piles), distance from pile to property line, (city fire code requires 10 feet of clearance between the property line and any piles), hazardous identification sign requirements and the labeling of containers and drums.

The agreement also states that the business “shall stop parking trucks and trailers on [c]ity streets, including but not limited to Trenton Avenue and Somerset Streets for any period longer than 2 hours, except that at no time shall Defendant park any trucks or trailers on the area adjacent to the playground located at Trenton Avenue and Auburn Street.”

Also as part of the settlement, the owner will keep the junkyard fence in good repair, ensure that junk piles are not visible to pedestrians on sidewalks adjacent to the fence, clean adjacent streets twice a week and take other measures to maintain the surrounding property in clean, secure and accessible condition.

“We ask for high fines not to make money for the city, but to deter unlawful and dangerous practices by those business owners who only understand one thing — a hit to the wallet. If you’re one of these owners, L&I and the Law Department are putting you on notice,” said David Perri, commissioner of the Department of Licenses and Inspections. “If you reject the city’s efforts to bring you into voluntary compliance with the law, we will take enforcement action against you and we will be aggressive.”

The Star has reached out to the property owner, David Feinberg, for a request for comment, but has yet to receive a response. The story will be updated if and when Feinberg responds.