If you operate an auto salvage yard, it is important
for you to know the EPA regulations that apply to your activities.
You probably need permits for wastewater discharges and need a
Pollution Prevention Plan. You may also be required to notify
the EPA if you generate any hazardous waste. Complying with some
regulations, such as getting a permit, may take some time. So,
the earlier you look into your responsibilities, the better. Listed
below are some of the major environmental requirements that may
apply to you and will provide you with a starting point to identify
areas where your business might be subject to regulation.
The EPA regulates how Freon is handled from vehicle
air conditioners. Under these regulations, refrigerants must be
removed from salvage vehicles before the vehicles are recycled.
The rules also set standards for Freon recovery and disposal.
It is strictly against the law to vent the refrigerant into the
air, so it's important that you don't try to pull a compressor
or engine, etc, in the yard, until you have pumped the refrigerant
out of the system.
In most states there are regulations in place
for businesses that handle scrap tires.
Auto salvage yards generate used oil and oil
products. These oil products subject you to the spill prevention
regulations and in most cases require you to provide secondary
containment for the waste fluids. The best way to manage used
oil is to send it off site to a recycling company.
Antifreeze drained from vehicles is considered
a hazardous waste. You CANNOT dispose of used antifreeze by pouring
it into your septic system, on the ground, or in the trash. In
most areas, you also cannot dispose of antifreeze in the sanitary
sewer. The best option for handling used antifreeze is to have
it recycled. Again, secondary containment is likely required.
Most auto salvage yards use solvents and disposable
or reusable rags to clean parts or equipment. When disposed of,
these solvents and rags often meet the definition of a hazardous
waste. The best option to manage rags is to send them off-site
to a commercial laundry for cleaning.
If batteries from vehicles are handled improperly,
they can pose environmental and health hazards. Battery components
are toxic and corrosive. Lead and sulfuric acid in batteries can
contaminate the air, soil and water. By sending them to a battery
recycling company, both the lead and sulfuric acid can be recovered
from batteries. Batteries should never be stored outside, unless
under a roof or in a sealed container.
An auto salvage business may generate process
wastewater from equipment cleaning, car washing, paint spray booths
or other sources. Any discharge of industrial wastewater to streams,
rivers, lakes, ponds, marshes, watercourses, waterways, wells
and springs will require a discharge permit. Many modern operations
use full loop water recycling, to reuse their water used for cleaning,
rather than discharging it and most cities require this on new
Floor drains are found at many businesses. Some
shops have small rectangular or round floor drains connected to
underground piping. Do you know where the floor drains in your
business go? Are you discharging wastewater or other fluids into
your floor drains?
Typically auto salvage yards have outdoor areas
where salvage operations are conducted or materials are stored.
Storm water contacting these outdoor areas can carry pollutants
such as heavy metals, oils and solvents directly to a stream,
ditch, lake or other surface water. Auto salvage yards are regulated
facilities and under the storm water regulations, are required
to obtain a permit and develop a Storm Water Pollution Prevention
Plan (SWPPP). Some of the problems you may encounter involve core
engine and transmission piles, which should never be stored outside,
unless under a roof.
Mercury is a highly toxic metal and is often found
in vehicle hood and trunk light switches. During crushing or shredding,
mercury can be released into the environment, polluting the water
and soil. By removing switches at your salvage yard, you play
an important role in keeping mercury out of the environment. Mercury
switch removal is not difficult or expensive to do.
On a non-technical note, drums are the bane of
our existence. Eliminate ALL drums outside, except for paper trash,
and even those can be problematic if oily products get into them.
The EPA has identified our industry for additional
scrutiny. If you don't have the proper equipment, licenses and
permits, you should get them now to avoid serious fines. Most
of the permits and such have been required for a decade or so,
and are well publicized, so your failure to have them is going
to cause a lot of expensive issues for you, and could actually
shut your operation down.