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Maintenance and washing of vehicles should be conducted using environmentally responsible practices to prevent direct, untreated discharges of nutrient-enriched wastewater or hazardous wastes to surface or ground waters. This involves:
Environmentally friendly vehicle maintenance and washing practices are applicable for industrial and construction sites to prevent contamination of surface and ground water from wash water and fuel, coolant, or antifreeze spills or leaks.
Vehicles should be inspected for leaks daily and repaired immediately.
All used products, including oil, antifreeze, solvents, and other automotive-related chemicals, should be disposed of as directed by the manufacturer. These products are hazardous wastes that require special handling and disposal.
Used oil, antifreeze, and some solvents can be recycled at a designated facility, but other chemicals must be disposed of at a hazardous waste disposal site. A local environmental agency can help to identify such facilities.
Special paved areas should be designated for a vehicle repair area and a separate vehicle washing area in which runoff and wastewater from these areas is directed to the sanitary sewer system or other treatment facility as industrial process waste.
Vehicle washing facilities should use high-pressure water spray without any detergents as water can remove most dirt adequately. If detergents must be used, phosphate- or organic-based cleansers should be avoided to reduce nutrient enrichment and biological oxygen demand in wastewater. Only biodegradable products should be used—they should not contain halogenated solvents.
If possible, blowers or vacuums should be used instead of water to remove dry materials from vehicles. Washing areas must be clearly marked and workers should be informed that all washing must occur in this area. No other activities, such as vehicle repairs, should be conducted in the wash area.
If vehicles or equipment are heavily greased or soiled, the area should be bermed and covered to prevent contamination of runoff from these pollutants.
Limitations for vehicle maintenance areas include the cost of waste disposal (a fee may be charged by a hazardous waste disposal facility), the cost of providing an enclosed maintenance area with proper connections to an industrial sanitary sewer, and extra labor required to follow proper storage, handling, and disposal procedures.
Vehicle wash areas might require permits, depending on the volume of wastewater produced and the type of detergents used, and it might be expensive to designate an area for vehicle washing with proper connections to the industrial waste handling system.
Vehicle maintenance areas produce a substantial amount of hazardous waste that requires regular disposal. Spills must be cleaned up and cleanup materials disposed of immediately.
Equipment and storage containers should be inspected regularly to identify leaks or signs of deterioration.
Maintenance of vehicle wash areas is minimal and involves maintenance of berms and drainage to the sanitary sewer system.
The techniques mentioned above are very effective at reducing discharges of untreated automotive wastes and wash water to receiving waters. Their effectiveness is highly dependent on the training and level of commitment of personnel to follow procedures.
Costs associated with vehicle maintenance and wash areas include building enclosed structures, establishing connections to the sanitary sewer system, grading wash areas to drain only to sanitary sewers, and increased labor associated with special handling of hazardous wastes.