Cracking down on cowboy polluters

Cracking down on cowboy polluters

Rogue dismantling operators creating hazardous pollution problems in the Auckland region will soon be forced to clean up their act.

In October the regulatory services team at Auckland Regional Council began the process of inspecting more than 244 businesses engaged in the dismantling, recycling and scrapping of vehicles.

According to ARC industrial and trade process manager Kirsteen McDonald only seven sites in the Auckland region have consent for their operations and another 19 are currently going through the compliance process.

McDonald says the ARC recently sent a letter out to the dismantling companies outlining the project which will see a small team visiting sites to identify actual or potential pollution issues.

Inadequate storage of lead acid batteries, car bodies, plus incorrect fluid drainage, and release of hydrocarbons into the air and water table are all issues which will be confronted by the ARC inspectors.

"We will determine if consent is needed for the processes those companies are engaged in," she says. "The purpose of the exercise as outlined in the letter is to create a level playing field for all dismantlers.

"We sent a detailed form to each company asking about their operations and asked if they had a spill response plan or any environmental management procedures in place."

Broken Car Company director Warren Strong is pleased to hear that the ARC has begun the inspection process but says the local body needed to act sooner to stop the environment being polluted by dismantlers who don’t observe compliance rules and also operate in areas they shouldn’t be in.

"We started lobbying local bodies to enforce compliance on new operators five years ago because we were under pressure from smaller operators who didn’t have the same overhead plus many were processing stolen vehicles. We just want to see a level playing field in place for all dismantlers," he says.

The Broken Car Company operates in industrial zone six and Strong says the company takes serious care of its environmental obligations and has installed a filtration system which ensures containment of all and any pollutants.

"I’m not a greenie but taking care of environmental issues is good business practice and we’ve taken care to show and tell our customers about the systems we have in place to catch all fluids and contaminants when we dismantle vehicles.

"The majority of players in this industry are not compliant and they don’t have the drainage facilities required and some are operating in the wrong industrial zone.



"We process 30,000 vehicles a year, so imagine if we lost a litre of fluid per vehicle, it doesn’t bear thinking about. But it’s equally important for a small business dismantling three cars a week, they should not lose three litres of contaminant fluid into the environment.

"When we have alerted the ARC to a problem in the past, they have not acted on the complaint until it has turned into a complete disaster. The ARC has got to find a way to stop people instantly." he says.

The ARC plans to complete the initial site inspections by June 30, 2010 but Kirsteen McDonald says that the project will be ongoing to ensure compliance is achieved.




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