|The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM) has been awarded an Innovations Grant by the Environmental Protection Agency for the development of a voluntary Environmental Results Program (ERP) for auto salvage yards. The project is entitled, "Auto Salvage Environmental Results Program: Improved Compliance and Performance Through Innovation." Rhode Island's auto salvage yard industry has historically been under-regulated, due to agency resource limitations. Site inspections and enforcement activities have been sporadic, limited to responding to specific complaints about facilities and audits of major recycling operations where incidents of environmental contamination were found to occur. Responses to complaints have generally resulted in a single media inspection and enforcement response to the specific problem reported, rather than using a multi-media approach that allows for review and response to cross-media impacts.
Many auto salvage yards are in close proximity to residential areas and in areas that present unique land use conflicts. Some are found in communities where residents must rely on private wells due to the lack of public water supplies, thus presenting potential critical outcomes from groundwater contamination. The proposed ERP approach that will be used is unique, as it will allow DEM, for the first time, to take a comprehensive, multi-media, sector-based approach to environmental compliance and pollution prevention in the auto salvage yard industry.
By state law, auto salvage yards are required to be licensed by the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR) and comply with associated requirements. There are currently 85 licensed auto salvage yards in 26 Rhode Island communities. Of the 39 communities in Rhode Island, 13 do not have auto salvage yards at all within their boundaries. RI General Laws allow for local control by affording communities the opportunity, by ordinance, to issue and revoke local licenses to persons operating auto salvage yards.
RI DEM began working on its Auto Salvage Yards Certification Program, meeting with project partners University of Rhode Island Center for Pollution Prevention & Environmental Health and the Narragansett Bay Commission. As with the other DEM certification programs, this one will employ a stakeholder process that includes governmental representatives as well as external stakeholders. It will be a multi-media program that addresses air and water pollution control, hazardous waste and other fluids, batteries, mercury switches, and tires. A checklist has been designed to perform baseline audits of facilities.
Licensing with RI DBR is required by law for these facilities to operate. It will be a three-year project from its beginning to the first certification round, and will be an ongoing RI DEM program, with certification being administered every three years. Rhode Island has 85 auto salvage yards licensed by the RI Department of Business Regulation (RI DBR). Licensing with RI DBR is required by law for these facilities to operate.
In January 2006, NBC and DEM sponsored a half-day Environmental Compliance and Pollution Prevention workshop. Fifty auto salvage yard operators that represented 32 facilities, a significant percentage of licensed auto salvage yards in the state, attended the workshop.
In winter 2006, RI DEM held two stakeholder meetings to facilitate discussion and receive input as part of the preparation for finalizing and introducing the Auto Salvage Yard Facilities Certification Program. The stakeholder group includes representatives from RI DEM, the Narragansett Bay Commission, Auto Recyclers of Rhode Island, auto salvage yard operators, and the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns. Stakeholders reviewed program draft documents and the planned program design, and provided input and comments. RI DEM is finalizing the documents and is planning to launch the program to auto salvage yard facility operators in the spring of 2007.
RI DEM will also be launching an Auto Salvage Yard Facility Certification Program webpage this spring. The webpage will contain documents and information for the certification program and be a resource for auto salvage yard facility operators.
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM) completed the stakeholder process for the Auto Salvage Yard Facilities Certification Program in early spring 2007, and then piloted the checklist with three auto salvage yard facilities to access ease of use, identify any problems, and receive input, before finalizing documents and introducing the program to the entire sector. This is an Environmental Results Program (ERP) initiative that features self-certification, compliance assistance, and performance measurement.
Certification materials were mailed to Rhode Island auto salvage yard facility operators in May 2007 with introductory training held in June 2007. At the same time, RI DEM launched its new Auto Salvage Yard Facilities Certification Program webpage on the RI DEM website. The webpage contains documents and information for the certification program, and also serves as an informational resource to auto salvage yard facility operators.
A half-day Stormwater Management training workshop was held in June, sponsored in partnership with the Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC). The workshop was offered to auto salvage yard facility operators and NBC significant industrial users. A brief introductory training session for the certification program was held at the end of the workshop. The workshop and introductory training were attended by 44 people from auto salvage yard facilities, representing 26 facilities, or 37 percent of the active auto salvage yards. Attendance at the workshop was not required to participate in the certification program for which participation is voluntary. Certification checklists from participating facilities are due to RI DEM by September 15, 2007.
Since May 2007, RI DEM’s Auto Salvage Yard Facilities Certification Program has received a response from 37 facilities that completed and submitted the multi-media checklist. Participation in the program is voluntary, but the benefits of participating are strongly emphasized. The program covers both regulatory requirements and best management practices and is an Environmental Results Program (ERP) initiative, which features self-certification, compliance assistance, and performance measurement.
To date, RI DEM has received a response from 37 facilities that completed and submitted the multi-media checklist. This is 63 percent of the 59 auto salvage yard facilities now actively operating in Rhode Island.
University of Rhode Island Center for Pollution Prevention and Environmental Health staff have completed 36 post-certification facility site visits and audits, including 20 facilities that were randomly selected. Analysis of the results is underway, but preliminary results show marked improvements in the removal and recycling of auto mercury switches, safe storage of lead acid batteries and inspection for leaks, labeling of used oil containers, submittal of stormwater permit applications, and implementation of a written stormwater plan.