Environmental compliance is a major concern and challenge for the recycling industry. There are few recycling industries that face a stiffer challenge than auto recyclers. Vehicles that were once abandoned have become a valuable commodity. Junkers are now being crushed, shredded and recycled to make new steel. While autos contain a lot of valuable and reusable metal, they also contain subs tances that can creat e environmental problems.
Atlas Auto Crushers in Warren, OH is a successful family-owned business that converts old Junkers into useful scrap that is eventually sold to local steel mills. Brothers Ma r t in and S cot t Wilhelm took over the enterprise from their father and have seen the volume of business grow steadily. Every day peddlers drive into the yard, their pick-up trucks loaded with throwaways.
After Atlas Auto Crushers buys a junk car, it is dismantled. The wheels, tires, battery, transmission and engine are removed and stacked separately. A huge press then flattens the shell of the stripped down Junker. With some 2,000 lbs of pressure per square inch, the press reduces the car to a pancake only a foot or so high. A pay loader deposits the flattened car onto a stack of compressed vehicles. Eventually, this mountain of scrap is loaded onto flatbed trucks and sold to shredders for further processing. The removed components become separate mountains at the back of the Wilhelm’s four acre lot.
Even though they are drained before removing, the engines often contain fluids, such as oil and other liquids. Even after the parts are carefully emptied and stacked, residual fluids leak out. In the Atlas lot, this leakage over time threatened to spread out beyond the confines of the lot. There was a risk that oily wastes would seep into a nearby creek and create an environmental risk.
The Environmental Protection Agency closely monitors industrial activity for environmental compliance. “Being as close as we are to a steel mill, we knew that our promptness to comply would be closely watched. We had to come up with a good solution, fast,” says Marty Wilhelm.
Atlas installed a Model 6 V Brill™ oil-recovery system to reduce the amount of oil in its wastewater. The Wilhelms outlined what they needed to resolve their oily waste problem. They wanted a system that was uncomplicated, dependable and required no supervision or maintenance. “A mountain of transmissions sits on concrete that is so oily and slippery that it is difficult to walk on. We didn’t want to have to struggle out to repair or adjust or watch over a machine at the far end of our lot. We wanted a system that we could just set up and start and walk away from with no headaches and no hassles.”
They also needed a system that would be unfazed by changing water levels and that would work year-round, even in the brutally cold Ohio winters and rainy springs. “We have some heavy rains in this area and the oily runoff from the motor pile can just flood into the collection pits,”’ says Marty. “The water level can rise very high in a short time. We needed a system that would not quit on us because of rapid water level changes.”