Calgary

Calgary scrap metal dealer wants stronger legislation to stop shady business

Dan Klufas makes his living buying scrap metal — mostly copper — and recycling it. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of copper is sold to his business, Federal Metals, each week.

Dan Klufas says it shouldn't be left to businesses like his to be the only line of defense

Scrap metal recycler Dan Klufas said he shouldn't be the last line of defense to stop metal thefts. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Dan Klufas makes his living buying scrap metal — mostly copper — and recycling it. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of copper is sold to his business, Federal Metals, each week.

Klufas says when metal theft happens, the scrap metal industry is unfairly caught in the middle.

"It is frustrating because we're put in the light with the criminals, that we're facilitating it, that we're the ones facilitating the problem. And it's not true," Klufas said.

Last month in Calgary, a man was crushed trying to steal a catalytic converter to make money from the platinum and other precious metals inside.

Klufas doesn't accept platinum, but he knows the danger copper thieves put themselves and others in when they steal it, often from places such as electrical lines and communications systems.

According to Klufas, bare stripped copper is currently selling at around $3.20 per pound.

"It's worth a fortune," he said. "So, you know, you can hold 20 to 30 pounds of copper in your hands pretty quick and that's enough money to get them what they need."

Copper thieves often put themselves in danger when they steal copper from locations like electrical lines and communications systems. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Dealers are supposed to record the seller's information under the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Identification Act, which was enacted by the Alberta government in November 2019. 

The act was initially brought forward in 2012 and received royal assent, but was never proclaimed.  

According to Jason van Rassel, spokesperson for the Justice and Solicitor General department, regulations are now being developed for the act. 

"We are now working with stakeholders to develop regulations that will determine what kinds of materials will be covered by the legislation, as well as outline legal requirements for dealers and recyclers around obtaining proof of identification from sellers, recording and retaining transaction records, and sharing information with law enforcement," he said.

Dave Quest, former MLA for Strathcona-Sherwood Park, introduced the legislation and said he's happy the bill is being revived.

"I think, by and large, they would welcome it. Because, again, the good guys are doing it already. So it creates a level playing field now for everybody," he said.

Klufas said he hopes that stronger legislation will help legitimate operations compete with the illegitimate ones.

"I would say that 90 per cent of us in the industry are honest scrap dealers. We love our industry, it's a great industry. We're doing fantastic things for the environment every day and we enjoy our work," he said. "There's you know, that one shady mobile scrap dealer — hopefully this legislation [will] help the police [shut] them down."

The regulations are expected to be finalized by spring 2020.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Terri Trembath

Video Journalist

Terri Trembath is a video journalist who joined CBC Calgary in 2008. You can reach her at terri.trembath@cbc.ca.

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