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Enforcement warning for ATF's

The Environment Agency has instructed its field staff to take enforcement action against Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATF’s) that do not remove or drain shock absorbers.

Site operators will be served with a compliance notice with failure to comply within the notice period resulting in enforcement action that could include suspension of the site licence, prosecution or both.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “Draining shock absorbers was a new treatment activity in the UK so it took time for sites to acquire and use the necessary equipment. Our guidance to field staff is a confirmation that we now expect all ATF’s to be complying. The assessment of this treatment is a priority during routine site inspections.”

But while officers have been ordered to take the hard line with shock absorbers, there remain problems with the safe deployment and removal of airbags as well as the availability of suitable tools.

Many operators have found difficulty in acquiring connectors that allow the deployment of a vehicles full complement of airbags and other explosive devices in one operation. Some are even having connectors made on a model-by-model basis because of the lack of a common standard among motor manufacturers.

With this the case, the agency has suggested that it will operate a policy of leniency with operators showing “best endeavour”.

The spokesman added: “We expect every operator of an ATF to be dealing with the airbags in vehicles for which he has taken responsibility. If he is currently unable to safely deploy or remove the airbags, he must at least show he has taken steps to obtain and use the necessary equipment as a matter of urgency. This means equipment has been ordered and there is a plan to train staff and begin using equipment in a reasonable time period.”

The agency will review the situation at the end of the year. It has already taken around 30 prosecutions in the past 12 months.

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