Corbin at Lin-Cor Environmental is not unfamiliar with
the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Earlier this year, Lin-Cor was charged with a variety
of offenses, including unlicensed
discharge of hazardous matter and hazardous waste, unlicensed
operation of a hazardous-waste storage facility, unlicensed
transportation of hazardous waste, violation of hazardous
waste management rules and violation of oil discharge
The charges span several years and include a variety of
locations in Maine. The state is looking for reimbursement
of approximately $4,500 for cleaning up spills. The eight
charges filed in York County Superior Court carry fines
of $100 to $25,000 per day.
From those charges, it would seem that Lin-Cor is dealing
with some mighty nasty substances, but “we’re
not dealing with nuclear wastes,” Corbin said. Lin-Cor
is merely a mobile car crusher company and the wastes
sited are the leftovers from that operation, including
gasoline and other auto fluids.
Corbin said that her operation is no different from many
others operating in Maine and elsewhere, and although
she also works in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts,
she has not had any complaints from those states. She
also noted that she was trying to do things the right
way, and that she was recycling the fluids and “not
just dumping it onto the ground.”
As a result of those charges, Corbin took a hard look
at the laws regulating her industry, and found that the
laws did not specify who is responsible for the disposal
of hazardous wastes from automobiles.
Corbin’s contention was that since the auto salvage
yards received the bulk of the profits from the cars she
crushed for them, the salvage yards should be responsible
for the waste products left behind.
Dennis Harrish, the assistant attorney general prosecuting
Lin-Cor’s case said that the car-crushing companies
are not licensed by the state, and that auto salvage yards
are regulated at the municipal level, so the industry
as a whole is not well-regulated.
also noted that some of the existing legislation made
it more difficult to properly recycle. Cracked batteries,
for instance, would cost an average of $95 each to properly
dispose of under existing laws, according to Corbin. She
said that although no one would admit to improperly disposing
of cracked batteries, she doubted that anyone could show
records of paying for disposal. Giving auto salvage yards
and car crushers a way to safely and legally store and
transport the batteries to battery recyclers would result
in better compliance.
Corbin talked to several legislators before Senator Richard
Nass (R-Acton) agreed to introduce new legislation that
would clarify responsibilities. Corbin noted that her
efforts were not immediately embraced by the area auto
salvage yards, but she explained to them, “This
will keep them from doing to you what they did to me.”
Deborah Garrett at the Maine DEP provided the text of
the law and its amendments enacted on May 26. This law
regulates the operating standards for junkyards, automobile
graveyards and automobile recycling businesses in Maine.
Garrett stated, “It requires that logs be maintained
of all motor vehicles handled by the facility. It requires
that all fluids, refrigerant, batteries and mercury switches
be removed from motor vehicles that are not operable,
appliances and other items within 180 days of acquisition
by a junkyard, automobile graveyard or automobile recycling
In addition, “Items acquired prior to October 1,
2005, however, must have fluids, refrigerant, batteries
and mercury switches removed by January 1, 2007. It requires
that storage, recycling or disposal of materials comply
with federal and state laws. It requires that all fluids,
refrigerant, batteries and mercury switches be removed
before crushing or shredding.
“It also provides that a municipality or county
may reject an application for an automobile graveyard
or automobile recycling business if the applicant has
not demonstrated that certain provisions regarding storm
water management have been complied with.”
Garrett confirmed that Corbin was the one who put the
legal wheels into motion: “The bill originated with
a constituent (a car crushing operation) who was upset
that she was the subject of an enforcement action because
of improper storage and handling of fluids from cars they
When asked about estimated costs to recyclers of $3 per
gallon for gasoline and $95 per battery for proper recycling,
Garrett said, “As I remember some of the numbers
came from the recyclers and they were challenged in terms
of accuracy. ‘Fees’ are not part of the bill;
the argument was about how much it would ‘cost’
the industry to comply, and those estimates varied. The
state gets nothing out of this other than reduced likelihood
of spills and soil/water contamination.”
Now that the bill has become law, Corbin noted that while
she was surprised that the law was actually passed, and
in a short time, she is not completely satisfied with
the results as some of the language got changed in the
process. She was told that she should “be happy
with what she got,” and she admits that this is
a good start. She also commented that this could spur
other states to pass similar laws, so it is worth watching.
Negotiations between Lin-Cor and the state regarding the
fines imposed are in process, and no fines had been paid
as of press time. Neither Corbin nor her lawyer wished
to comment on those ongoing negotiations at this time.
The Maine bill can be found here.
Garrett cautioned that “The law that will take effect
is the amendment referenced on this page (CA- S-186).
The original proposal was changed in committee.”