EPA settles with Puerto Rican auto crushing firm

Scrap metal recycler will invest more than $125,000 on equipment to guarantee the proper removal and storage of liquid from vehicles it handles.

July 10, 2014
Recycling Today Staff
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a legal settlement with the auto crushing and scrap metal recycling firm W.R. Recycling regarding alleged violations of federal hazardous waste laws at the company’s facility in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.

As part of the settlement, W.R. Recycling will make a number of site improvements to control runoff as well as invest $133,000 in a project to purchase and install equipment that will ensure the clean extraction, removal and storage of harmful liquids from all the vehicles it handles.

The EPA notes that the upgrades will benefit the environment and the community and are not legally required to bring the company into compliance. In addition, W.R. Recycling will come into compliance with all federal laws and pay a $29,000 penalty.

“Recycling old cars has many benefits, but the process must be done in a way that does not cause pollution,” says EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “This agreement will modernize the car recycling operation in Cabo Rojo, ensuring that the facility is complying with all environmental laws.

Under the settlement’s terms, W.R. Recycling will construct a sealed concrete pad, with a drainage collection system and an oil water separator on which all vehicles it handles will be processed, crushed and stored prior to shipping of the crushed cars for metal recovery. A roof will be built over the vehicle crushing area to shield the fluids collection and crushing processes from rainwater. The company will also purchase and use specialized recovery equipment to ensure the clean extraction, removal and storage of transmission and engine oil, gasoline and diesel fuel, coolant and refrigerants.

The recovery equipment will ensure that all vehicle fluids are collected and segregated for reuse or recycling. The facility improvements and new equipment will help prevent the release of hazardous wastes into the environment during W.R. Recycling’s operations.

Among the equipment purchased by W.R. Recycling is a mobile automotive fluid recovery unit that will enable the company to process scrap vehicles not only at its Cabo Rojo base but also at other locations in Puerto Rico where there are no other scrap operators.

The settlement follows inspections that the EPA conducted on three occasions from 2009 to 2012. During the inspections, EPA found that W.R. Recycling’s facility was out of compliance with federal hazardous waste regulations and issued a legal complaint to the company.

Among the violations cited in the complaint were the company’s failure to make hazardous waste determinations for the fluids and discarded materials it generates, its failure to minimize the releases of hazardous materials, the disposal of hazardous waste without a permit, the improper disposal of used oil and the failure to label used oil storage containers.