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EA get their act together - have you?

EA recorded issues
Explosion and fire are by far the largest causes of incidents at EA sites.
We have heard about the Environment Agency’s clampdown on ATFs which is planned for the New Year, and I’m not surprised that many take its effectiveness with a pinch of salt. After all, laws have been in place for years now and nothing has really happened, especially to sites that operate illegally.

Those attending the recent MVDA Annual General Meeting were left in no doubt that this is not a clampdown to take lightly, The Environment Agency’s Head of ELV’s, Tania Tucker left the audience under no illusion that ATFs would need to demonstrate that they are operating to their licence conditions and complying with the law. The audit will asses effectiveness of your depollution process and the storage and handling of the associated fluids and waste materials. It will also include areas such as technical competence, record keeping, compliance with hazardous waste regs and F Gas compliance.

Tania explained that ELVs had not been a priority for the EA but had now moved considerably up the agenda, and that she intends to keep them there. “ELVs are the biggest sector of metals recycling” she said, and showed the audience a graph to demonstrate that explosion and fire were by far the highest cause of incidents in 2014. She also explained that she understood that operators do not always appreciate what an EA officer may say and she recognised the problem of different EA officers saying different things. “We are working to get all officers to the same standard”, she said.
Tania Tucker
Tania Tucker heads up the Environment Agency's ELV sector.

She also explained that she only covers licensed sites and it was a different department that was responsible for policing illegal operations. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t influence those clamping down on the illegals. “We want to drive standards up and understand that it is key to have a level playing field. I recognise that illegal operators can stop you, the legitimate operator from trading at a profit”, she said. She then spoke of the various operations that the EA had carried out on illegal operators.

We spoke to Autodrain who have been involved with training EA officers so that they understand the industry. They feel this clampdown will show a great deal of depollution that should have been carried out, hasn’t. What you need to appreciate is that it isn’t hard for the EA to analyse your data. They know how many cars you handle and they know on average, how much waste this will produce. They also have the waste notes to check that the two add up. "We all want to see high standards and if the EA is serious about raising environmental standards, then this could be a wake up call for some”, said Autodrain’s Mark Drake. He went on, “ just as an example, shock absorbers can be left on the vehicle un-drained until sent to the shredder, but prior to that they must be drained.” How many are slipping through the system currently?

It’s easy to underestimate the volumes involved in shock absorbers. If you say a quarter litre per shocker on average and there’s 2 million ELVs then that’s 2 million litres of oil each year. How much of that is not being recycled and ends up in the environment? OK, some shockers would have been sold but hopefully, you get the idea.

The clampdown isn’t with us yet so there is time to check what you’re doing. Are you doing all you should, do you have the correct equipment, are your operators trained, are you working within your site licence conditions? The time is now to stand back and take a look at your site. Hopefully you can tick all the right boxes!

Autodrain tell us that they are currently offering a free no obligation, compliance check for the depollution process, so this is an ideal opportunity for any site to find out exactly how they stand from the EA Viewpoint on the depollution process.

I don’t think any professional operator would argue against the need for tight environmental controls, but this is only affecting those playing by the rules. I hope Tania is a woman of her word and will work as hard to make sure the EA clamps down on illegal sites - only then will we have a level playing field.

For further details about Autodrain’s free compliance check, Call them on 0)113 205 9332 or visit their website here.

December 2015

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