The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced an agreement with High Plains Motors Inc. resolving alleged hazardous waste violations related to the improper management of used oil, paint solvents, lacquer thinner and other materials at an automobile dealership and service center at 331 Front St. in Wolf Point, Montana. As part of the settlement, High Plains Motors will pay a penalty of $5,758 and complete a junk vehicle recycling project on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
“This innovative environmental project is an example of how EPA enforcement actions can directly benefit our communities,” says Suzanne Bohan, EPA assistant regional administrator. “EPA commends High Plains Motors and Tribal leaders for their commitment to work together to safely remove dozens of abandoned vehicles on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.”
Deb Madison, environmental program manager for the Fort Peck Tribes, adds, “The Office of Environmental Protection is looking forward to working with High Plains Motors and the Fort Peck Housing Authority to address this environmental problem.”
The High Plains Motors automobile dealership and service center is located on privately held land within the exterior boundaries of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. EPA inspections in July 2015 revealed the company had violated provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by failing to label used oil containers and respond to releases of used oil at the facility, the agency says. EPA inspections also found that the company failed to properly manage paint solvent waste, oil/water/antifreeze mixture and lacquer thinner on site. EPA issued High Plains Motors a compliance order Sept. 29, 2015, and the company has since taken steps to secure compliance with hazardous waste regulations.
The announcement resolves High Plains Motors’ liability for the alleged RCRA violations by securing a penalty and a supplemental environmental project that will recycle approximately 86 abandoned vehicles on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, EPA says. After seeking input from the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes and EPA, High Plains Motors agreed to work with a local salvage company, Trader’s Den, to remove abandoned or inoperable vehicles on Tribal housing-owned property in the Wolf Point and Poplar areas of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. These actions will remove potential sources of pollution from the vehicles, including oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, gasoline, and batteries. High Plains Motors will properly dispose of or salvage all recovered materials and will deposit vehicles at a local junkyard for crushing and recycling.
EPA has also been working with the Fort Peck Tribes and the communities of Poplar and Wolf Point through the agency’s “Making a Visible Difference in Communities” initiative. One focus of this initiative is achieving environmental results and reducing blight through technical support and grant resources. For example, recent EPA brownfield funding, provided in partnership with the Great Northern Development Corp. and Tribes’ brownfield program, is removing contaminants and identifying revitalization opportunities at several abandoned buildings in the area. The removal of junk vehicles through this supplemental environmental project will further the goal of reducing blight and help make these communities cleaner and safer places to live.