Hazardous materials and liquid waste
Most materials can be hazardous or dangerous to the environment if handled or stored inappropriately. Auto dismantlers must have in place practices and procedures to prevent accidental leaks and spills. Correct handling, carrying and storage of materials can help stop pollution of the ground, stormwater drains and local waterways.
Storing and using chemicals
Think about the chemicals you are currently using. There may be a less environmentally damaging material on the market that you could use instead. Ask your supplier about alternatives.
Fire hazard prevention and occupational health and safety (OH&S) are important considerations affecting how you store, use and dispose of chemicals. You need to comply with the WorkCover NSW requirements relating to chemical hazards in the workplace. WorkCover NSW published a range of useful guides about this.
In addition to these requirements the following considerations relate to the storage and use of chemicals:
- Ensure that all chemicals are stored in a designated area away from stormwater drains. Cover, seal and bund the storage area.
- Bund storage areas to contain spills and cover them to prevent rusting of drums. There must be no access for any spills or leaks to any drains. Protect drums and tanks from possible collision. Place drip trays where leakage is likely.
- Certain substances are classified as Dangerous Goods, and their use and storage is controlled by the Dangerous Goods Act. (These substances include petrol, solvents, liquefied petroleum gas and ammonia). Call the NSW WorkCover Authority to see whether you need a Dangerous Goods licence.
- Store and dispose of each type of chemical in a separate container.
- Clearly label each container with the name of the chemical it contains. Keep an up-to-date and legible list of all chemicals held on site, including Material Safety Data Sheets (see below).
- Inspect storage containers regularly. Replace them if they are rusted, damaged or likely to leak. Allow yourself easy access.
- Keep all sharp parts away from chemical or liquid containers to avoid damage and spills.
- If you use or store flammable liquids, you need to comply with the Australian Standard AS 1940-2004: The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids.
- Send all used chemicals to a licensed contractor for recycling or disposal.
- Store liquids according to manufacturers requirements - for example, solvents should be stored away from heat, naked flames, direct sunlight, oil or other flammable liquids. Do not store incompatible chemicals together.
- Clean up all spills immediately. Have a spill kit in a clearly labelled and easily accessible place in the workshop.
Revesby auto dismantler finds that lots of little things can help make a better environment. How?
Used batteries are now stored off the ground and under cover.
Coolant is drained into trays.
Oil from gearboxes and differentials is drained, transferred to a holding tank and removed by a licensed waste contactor.
CFC gases - the firm is licensed to fit and decommission air conditioners, and has its own recovery unit.
Brake fluid was a problem, but the firm now has in place drain trays and a bleed-back tool. All master cylinders are drained into a drum and stored.
Parts are cleaned in a cleaning bay and parts that might leak oil have oil-absorbing mats underneath.
Metal is separated and stored for scrap.
Material safety data sheets (MSDS)
- An MSDS is an information sheet on the safe use and disposal of a material. It is just as important as any tool or piece of machinery in your workshop. It contains information that can save lives in an emergency. You should get an MSDS with every hazardous substance you buy, handle or use. If you don't have one for a material, ask your supplier.
Managing hazardous Wastes
Storing liquid hazardous waste requires extra care. It shoud be stored under cover and in a bunded and secure area that contains any leaks or spills and prevents wastes from coming in contact withthe ground or escaping to the environment via stormwater drains or gutters.
As a rule, hazardous wastes cannot go to landfill or be discharged to the sewer or stormwater system. If you are a generator of hazardous waste you are responsible for ensuring that it is transported to a facility that is licensed to receive and/or treat that type of waste. Your waste contractor should be able to provide advice on these issues.
To be accepted at a liquid waste facility, hazardous waste must be assessed and classified according to the DECC publication: Environmental Guidelines: Assessment, Classification and Management of Liquid and Non-liquid Wastes. When sending hazardous waste for treatment or disposal make sure that:
- The transporter is appropriately licensed
- The waste is being sent to a facility that can take it
- You keep all collection receipts.
For more information about 'online' waste tracking contact the DECC Environment Line, phone: 131 555
Solvents, oils, radiator coolant and brake fluid
- Solvents tend to be highly volatile and flammable. Store them away from heat, naked flames, direct sunlight, oil and other flammable liquids. Avoid unnecessary human exposure to solvents by storing them in a covered container with a tap (to avoid the need to pour). Keep the storage area well ventilated.
- You must not tip solvent waste into the sewer.
- Take care with rags soaked with fish oil or solvent as they are a known fire hazard.
- Collect waste oil for recycling. You must not tip old oil down the sewer or stormwater drains, on the ground or into trenches.
- Store small containers (25 L and less) of new coolant off the floor and away from entrances and stormwater drains. Store larger drums in a bunded area. Do not pour used coolant onto the ground, down stormwater drains or into gutters.
- To prevent leakage of brake fluid, cut and crimp brake lines when master cylinders are removed.
Ground and groundwater contamination
- You must not allow any hazardous liquids to soak into the ground. If they do, you may end up with a contaminated site that is costly to clean, and your land value will be greatly reduced.
- If contaminants soak into the ground and reach groundwater there is a high risk that they will flow off-site and contaminate neighbouring land, groundwater supplies or local creeks.
General actions for dealing with spills
Prepare and practice your spill clean-up procedure. Staff should know what to do, where to find emergency equipment and how to use it. Available equipment should include mops, brooms, rags, material to prevent spills going into drains, and material to absorb spills. Keep this material in a clearly labelled and accessible location. It is important to:
- Stop the source of the spill immediately if it is safe to do so.
- Contain the spill and control its flow (Refer to the relevant MSDS). Stop the spill from entering any stormwater drains by blocking the drain inlets.
- Clean up the spill. It is important to clean up all spills quickly, even small ones, as they can easily flow into stormwater drains or be washed there by rain.
- Store all waste generated from spill clean up in a sealed vessel and in a bunded and covered area.
- Contact a waste contractor who is licensed to dispose of the absorbents used in the spill clean up.
Emergency response to spills
- If a spill occurs that threatens or harms the environment, you must tell the EPA or the local council as soon as you can after you became aware of it.
- For large-scale, hazardous spills call the Fire Brigade immediately on 000. If you cannot contain any spill of hazardous materials (regardless of its size) contact the Fire Brigade immediately.
- For small-scale spills, follow the MSDS for the spilled substance.
- Make all staff aware of emergency telephone numbers to call in the case of a spill.
- Your local council
- WorkCover NSW, phone: 131 050
- DECC Environment Line, phone: 131 555
- Standards Australia
- Yellow Pages - look under 'Oil & Chemical Spill Recovery & Dispersal', 'Waste
Reduction & Disposal Services' and 'Environmental & Pollution Control Consultants'
Page last updated: 27 February 2011