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US EPA announces compliance efforts among California auto dismantlers

Release Date: 4/15/2004
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute, U.S. EPA, (213) 452-3378

Enforcement, compliance assistance helps clean up sites

     LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today its successes with the automobile dismantling industry, citing an enforcement settlement that will reduce polluted stormwater runoff and require removal and recycling of mercury switches from junked cars.

    EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri made the announcement today at a press conference held outside an automobile dismantling facility in Sun Valley, Calif.  Nastri was joined by local elected officials; Fran Diamond, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board Chair; and representatives from Pick Your Part Auto Wrecking, the State of California Auto Dismantlers Association (SCADA) and Ashley Boren, Executive Director, Sustainable Conservation, an environmental organization.

    "The EPA remains committed to improving environmental performance of the auto dismantling industry," said EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri.  "Since initiating our enforcement action, Pick Your Part has gone to great lengths to achieve compliance and has employed new techniques to reduce contaminated stormwater runoff from its facilities across the state of California.  We also commend the company's decision to conduct the first large-scale program in California to remove 60,000 mercury switches from scrapped vehicles."

     As part of the settlement, Nastri cited a $165,000 EPA cash fine against Pick Your Part Auto Wrecking for failing to implement adequate stormwater management practices and pollution prevention plans, all violations of the nation's Clean Water Act.
    As part of the enforcement settlement, Pick Your Part will remove mercury switches as a supplemental environmental project valued at $235,000, which will prevent mercury from 60,000 switches from entering the environment and demonstrate the feasibility of such programs to other auto dismantlers across the state.

    "As a further commitment, we have engaged in a joint enforcement effort with the LA Regional Board," said Nastri. "Through cooperative enforcement efforts, we have been able to leverage each others resources and improve environmental performance at auto dismantling facilities across Southern California."
     "Runoff from auto recycle yards carries gasoline, antifreeze and other harmful substances into our waterways," said Fran Diamond, Los Angeles Regional Water Board Chair.  "Communities deserve to have water that is free of contamination.  Today's agreement is an innovative solution that benefits the environment, the community and businesses."

    In addition, the EPA supports industry efforts, like those of SCADA's, to be cooperative and proactive about environmental compliance.  SCADA has developed a program to improve environmental compliance for all of its members.  The EPA has also funded the development of education and outreach materials by Sustainable Conservation.

    "The State of California Auto Dismantlers Association is proud of its efforts to raise the bar of environmental performance and to establish professional standards for the dismantling industry," said Martha Bucknell, executive director, SCADA.  "Our 'Partners in the Solution' program provides assistance to every member in complying with a complicated array of environmental, safety and business regulations."
     By law, auto dismantling facilities must drain, manage, and dispose of toxic vehicle fluids, such as gasoline, antifreeze or brake fluid, in an environmentally safe manner; dismantle and clean the vehicles according to their permit standards; provide coverage for engines and other automobile parts; and develop and implement storm water pollution prevention plans.

     On Jan. 1, 2005, a law implemented by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control will require all auto dismantlers to remove mercury switches from scrapped vehicles.