Scrap yards that deal with End of Life Vehicles (ELVs) have been warned to clean up their acts or face the consequences.
With car batteries, oils and petrol capable of causing serious damage to the environment and metals, glass and plastics required to be recycled, the Environment Agency (EA) is to put yards under increased scrutiny.
EA officer Rebecca Dunn said: “Only authorised sites are permitted to carry out dismantling, and they need to make sure that they carry out the work so that pollution doesn’t happen.
The regulations came into force in November 2003 and the EA monitors yards throughout the country to make sure they are complying. Over the next year, a careful audit will take place to make sure that dismantling is done efficiently and without any pollution.
Dunn added: “All companies with scrap cars should take out any polluting substances such as oil, petrol or batteries before they are sent to be crushed or finally disposed of. They must also dismantle the cars on an impermeable surface such as concrete, so that polluting oil or lubricating liquid can’t seep through and contaminate the ground.
“Once oil and other fluids have escaped they can get into watercourses and groundwater, kill wildlife and cause serious pollution. In areas that rely on groundwater for drinking, this is even more serious.”
While the EA states that some sites have taken the regulations seriously by purchasing equipment that can drain hazardous fluids from vehicles in minutes, they still regularly take out prosecutions. Punishments range from a fine of £5,000 to a five year prison sentence.