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Salvage Yards in Ohio: Good Environmental Neighbors

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Salvage Yards in Ohio: Good Environmental Neighbors

Ronnie Tanner
February 27, 2009

There are over 800 licensed salvage dealers in the state of Ohio and today these dealers are doing their part to make Ohio a cleaner, healthier place to live. The dismantling of vehicles for reusable parts and fluids and the sale of the remaining materials as scrap has gone a long way toward lessening the burden on landfills in the state of Ohio. Unfortunately in the past the methods used in the dismantling and storage of salvaged vehicles has resulted in negative impacts on the environment. It is the mismanagement of waste streams at auto recycling facilities and the potential for serious consequences that concerns many of the residents in Ohio.

OATRA (Ohio Auto and Truck Recyclers Association) was formed as an outreach to help recyclers within the state work more harmoniously with the EPA. The EPA recognizes that by keeping vehicles and their hazardous components out of overcrowded landfill, auto recyclers provide a valuable community service. One of the functions of OATRA is that of liaison between the EPA and the auto recyclers to ensure that all EPA regulations are fully understood and carried out by Ohio auto recyclers. In the past, many auto recyclers inadvertently harmed the environment by improperly discarding hazardous auto parts and toxic substances. With OATRA’s assistance, auto recycler’s today work together with the EPA to not only prevents harm to the environment but also to preserve precious resources such as iron, aluminum and oil.

Automotive recyclers deal with the recycling of inoperative motor vehicles of all kinds including heavy duty trucks, RV’s and motorcycles and rank right at the top in terms of how much material they handle for recycling. By weight, 76% of the average cars’ contents are recycled. No other complex mass produced article has so far achieved such a high rate of recycling. In 1994 around 134,000 vehicles were salvaged in the state of Ohio. Of those vehicles, 2,599,352 liters of hazardous fluids were handled responsibly. This means that none of that hazardous fluid found its way to the ground and eventually the ground water. This is a success for the people who live and work in the state Ohio.

Another hazardous waste material handled by auto recyclers that goes unnoticed by the general public is mercury. Most people don’t realize how much mercury the average vehicle contains. Ohio has an established a program to remove mercury light switches from salvaged vehicles and it’s an important effort in the overall strategy for keeping mercury out of the environment. The program is designed to prevent mercury releases to the environment that occur when cars are crushed shredded and melted. Mercury switches in vehicles are one of the nation’s largest sources of mercury contamination. Mercury light switches were used until 2003 for convenience lights under hoods and in trunks, as well as in anti-lock breaking systems.

Working together with the EPA OATRA members and other recyclers across the country are working to ensure that Ohio’s children of today will be able to live as adults in a healthy world tomorrow.

Source: Amazines.com

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