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EPA Settlement with Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico Auto Crushing Company; Addresses Hazardous Waste and Used Oil

Release Date: 07/09/2014
Contact Information: John Martin, (212) 637-3662, martin.johnj@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached a legal settlement with W.R. Recycling of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, resolving alleged violations of federal hazardous waste law. W.R. Recycling is the owner and operator of an auto crushing and scrap recycling business. As part of the settlement announced today, W.R. Recycling will make a range of site improvements to control runoff and 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. These 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,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. 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. This 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. In areas that lack scrap processors, cars are often abandoned and the fluids and hazardous components are left, resulting in the potential for leaks and releases into the environment. Vehicle fluids and potentially hazardous car parts such as mercury switches, lead wheel weights, batteries, and airbag cartridges should be reused or recycled.

      On three occasions from 2009 to 2012, the EPA inspected W.R. Recycling’s facility to determine its compliance with federal hazardous waste regulations. As a result of these inspections, the EPA 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.

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