The used oil from one oil change can contaminate 1 million gallons of freshwater — a year's supply for 50 people.
Automotive maintenance facilities' discharges to storm and sanitary sewer systems are highly regulated.
Fluid spills and improper disposal of materials result in pollutants, heavy metals, and toxic materials entering ground and surface water supplies, creating public health and environmental risks. (Source: EPA)
Wastes generated in automobile maintenance facilities and by residents performing their own car maintenance include:
- Solvents (paints and paint thinners)
- Brake fluid and brake lining
- Motor oils
- Fuels (gasoline, diesel, kerosene)
- Lubricating grease
Follow these best management practices to eliminate automotive stormwater runoff:
- Store all chemicals in appropriate containers that don’t leak.
- Close and secure any opened containers.
- If storing outdoors, be sure to place all containers/materials under cover to protect from rain and snow
- Keep a spill kit appropriate for the materials you use handy and stocked, ready for use.
- Any chemical spills, especially outdoors, should be swept up immediately.
- Use absorbent material (such as granular clay or kitty litter) or containment berms for liquid spills.
- Always use dry methods to clean spills (sweeping) and never hose down the area.
- Report any chemical spill to the local hazardous waste cleanup team. They’ll know the best way to keep spills from harming the environment.
Cleaners and Solvents
- Whenever possible, use detergent-based or water-based cleaning systems instead of organic solvent de-greasers.
- Use products labeled “non-toxic” and “readily biodegradable.”
- Use steam cleaning and pressure washing instead of cleaning parts with solvents. The wastewater generated from steam cleaning can be discharged to the on-site oil/water separator.
- Read labels carefully and follow directions.
- Dispose of unused materials in proper containers, and follow appropriate cleanup practices.
- Collect wastes for recycling or proper disposal.
- Check with your local Department of Public Works for hazardous waste collection procedures.
- Dry sweep paved areas on a regular basis, especially around storm drains. This includes parking lots, patios, sidewalks & dumpster areas. Do not use a hose to wash down pavement.
- Collect and dispose of debris in waste containers. Do not sweep into the gutter or storm drain.
- Cover dumpsters and keep them clean to avoid leaks.
- Make sure a plug is installed in the container's drain opening, which is usually near one of the back corners of the container. Without a plug, liquid wastes in the container are allowed to discharge freely.
- Check regularly for leaks, particularly in the lower corners of the container where rust is common, and replace if necessary.
- Never wash down dumpsters with a hose. If cleaning is needed, contact the leasing company.
- Schedule regular waste pick-ups.