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Indiana Department of Environmental Management

IDEM > Compliance > Land Compliance > Auto Salvage > Auto Salvage Recyclers Environmental Self-Audit Workbook > Section B: Fluids Management Section B: Fluids Management

As the operator of an auto salvage recycling business, you work with numerous types of fluids, and you need to be aware that many of them can pose a threat to human health and the environment if not handled correctly. Fluids are generally best managed by starting the fluids management process as soon as you receive a vehicle and diligently following through with all of the recommendations you will find here. This section will explain some requirements and suggestions for helping manage your fluids in the best way possible.

(1) Do you have spills or releases of fluids at your facility?

Fluids can include gasoline, fuel, motor oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid, brake fluid, battery acid, power steering fluid, crank case oil, solvents, paints, etc. If you have a spill or release on your property, you will need to submit an RTC plan form. To be in compliance, you will need to immediately clean-up, remove, and contain all spills and contaminated soil/debris resulting from spills and releases.

If the visible contamination is less than twelve (12) inches below the ground surface, then remove at least six (6) inches of soil/debris below the visible contamination. Dispose of all waste and contaminated soil/debris in a state permitted municipal solid waste landfill. Submit to IDEM, documentation of proper disposal of the remediated waste, as well as, plans to prevent future contamination (e.g., photos, receipts). Be aware that if the spilled material is unknown, you will need to conduct a waste determination prior to disposal of your contaminated material. See the orange box at the right for guidance information.

If the visible contamination is greater than twelve (12) inches below the ground surface, notify IDEM to determine the necessary clean-up requirements. Call IDEM’s Office of Land Quality - Industrial Waste Section at (800) 451-6027 ext. 4-6951 or (317) 234-6951.

(1a) If you answered “YES” to the question above, did you report the spill(s) and release(s) to IDEM upon discovery?

In the future, you will need to call IDEM’s Office of Land Quality – Emergency Response Section at (888) 233-7745 or (317) 234-4112 to report any spill or release.

(2) Do you remove fluids and filters from vehicles prior to storing them in your yard?

It is recommended that you remove all fluids and filters from vehicles before you store them in the yard. Removing these helps prevent potential health and environmental hazards. Used automotive fluids can contain contaminants, such as solvents, which can cause negative health effects as mild as nausea or as severe as life-threatening organ damage. Even clean, new fluids can pose a health risk: gasoline contains benzene, a chemical known to cause cancer. Additionally, removing the fluids and filters allows you to recycle them.

Some fluids can be recycled or reused after removal.

(3) Do you remove batteries from vehicles prior to storing them in your yard?

It is suggested that you remove batteries from vehicles prior to storing the vehicles in your yard, since they contain harmful substances such as lead, zinc, mercury, nickel, cadmium, and strong acids. A substance with the corrosive ability of a strong acid or the toxic potentials of lead, zinc, mercury, nickel, and cadmium should not be released to the environment. By removing batteries, you help ensure that these contaminants stay out of our soil, water and air.

(4) Do you store vehicle batteries in a building or away from the elements (e.g., rain and snow) to prevent a release into the environment?

Once you have taken the first step of removing batteries, the next thing to do is store them properly. The best possible way to store batteries is in containers or structures that can catch any leaks. These containers or structures are also known as secondary containment units. Containers should then be kept inside a building. By following this suggestion, you decrease the likelihood that contaminants (acid, lead, etc.) from the batteries will leak onto the ground or be washed into waterways by rain or snow. Storing batteries in secondary containment inside a building also help lessen the chances of a potentially costly clean-up in the event of an accidental release.

(5) Do you crush vehicles on site?

This applies to a crusher that is owned or contracted by the facility to do work on site.

If “NO”, skip question 5a.

(5a) If you answered “YES” to the question above, is the crusher located in an impervious secondary containment unit or inside a building with concrete floors?

After you have removed all automotive fluids, residual fluids will undoubtedly remain. In order to decrease the chance that these fluids will spill onto the ground during crushing and contaminate the environment, you should consider placing the crusher in an impervious secondary containment unit or inside a building with impervious concrete floors.

(6) Do you remove and recycle windshield wiper fluid?

Most people are familiar with the idea that gasoline and oils can cause health and environmental damage. However, many people do not realize that windshield wiper fluid, because of constituents like ethylene glycol, can also negatively impact human health and the environment. By removing windshield wiper fluid, you will be helping to ensure this contaminant does not reach the environment, and possibly save money.

(7) Do you inspect all fluid containers weekly for rust, dents, holes, bulges and leaks?

You should inspect all your fluid containers on a weekly basis for rust, dents, holes, bulges and leaks. By doing this, you will notice any problems and therefore decrease the possibility of an accidental release which could cause damage to the environment or loss of recyclable materials.

(8) Do all of your fluid containers have secure (tightly-sealed) lids?

You should secure the lids on all of your fluid containers. Following this suggestion will lessen the chances that contaminants will reach the environment through evaporation or accidental spills. This will also help prevent contamination of your usable fluids.

Properly closed parts washer.

(9) Do you label all of your fluid containers to identify the contents?

Labeling all of your fluid containers is an easy suggestion to follow. This will help prevent accidental mixing of incompatible substances. Also, it is much easier for you to know how to react to a spill if you know what fluid has spilled. This also helps when emergency responders need to come to your facility regarding a spill. Labeling fluids can also help with recycling and avoid the potential costs of a waste determination, a procedure that sometimes must be done in order to determine the identity of an unknown material.

(10) Do you store your fluid containers in a building or away from the elements (e.g., rain and snow) to prevent releases to the environment?

Storing fluid containers in a building or away from the elements is another suggestion you can follow to help ensure that fluids do not reach the environment. You can also add secondary containment pads for increased protection. These measures will help lessen the chances of a potentially costly clean-up in the event of an accidental release.

(11) Do you store empty drums in a manner that prevents the accumulation of rain water?

Keep empty drums in a manner that prevents the accumulation of water. For example, you can store them capped and laid on their sides. This will help prevent the accumulation of stagnant water, which could serve as a mosquito breeding ground. This also helps ensure that no water will come into contact with residual fluids and wash them into the soil or water.

(12) Do you store engines, transmissions, and other vehicle parts in a building or away from the elements (e.g., rain and snow) to prevent releases to the environment?

Store vehicle parts inside a building. By storing them outside, you risk potential contamination if residual fluids leak out, or if precipitation washes the fluids into the environment. Inside storage will lessen the chances of contamination, and your parts will be protected from damage by the elements.

(13) Are your floor drains closed or filled in where fluids are present?

If you have floor drains in an area where fluids are present, we suggest that you close or fill in the drains. By doing so, you make clean-up easier and you help ensure that your fluids will not find their way into the soil or water if they happen to spill on your floor.

Fluid pooling beneath stored vehicles.

Release of fluids from above ground storage tanks in poor condition with no label.

For guidance in making a waste determination:

or call IDEM toll free at (800) 988-7901 or (317) 232-8172.

Removal of fluids prior to storing the vehicle.

Oil removed and drained from oil filters.

Fluid removal prior to storing cars in the yard can greatly reduce fluids releases to ground and storm water.

Proper battery storage inside a trailer.

Batteries stored inside with secondary containment.

Auto recycler crushing operation.

Crusher placed in secondary containment.

Windshield wiper fluid storage.

Drums that are rusted and dented.

Properly closed parts washer.

Properly labeled and stored fluids.

Properly labeled and stored fluids in stationary secondary containment.

Open containers collecting rainwater.

Drums capped and stored on their sides.

Filled in floor drain.

Auto Salvage Recyclers Workbook