LOS ANGELES (AP) — California state officials are planning to launch a task force to improve oversight of scrap metal recyclers.

The Los Angeles Times reports Friday (lat.ms/PNHIuZ) that the state Department of Toxic Substances Control will form the panel with representatives of various regulatory agencies, including air, water and hazardous materials, as well as fire authorities.

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The task force is the first large-scale attempt to coordinate oversight of California’s $7 billion industry. Scrap metal operations have mushroomed in recent years because manufacturing demand in Asia has driven up prices, but many recyclers are operating without permits.

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The decision to form the task force comes just several weeks after the Times reported on recyclers’ widespread violations of environmental laws and fires, explosions and other accidents that have killed or seriously injured workers.

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