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Abandoned Cars Remain As Shredders Try To Reach Accord On Harzardous Waste

July 31, 1988

BOSTON (AP) _ Hundreds of abandoned cars are cluttering streets in and around Boston amid efforts to end a dispute over hazardous waste at two major automobile shredders.

″We do have a definite problem. There is a list of several hundred cars to be towed,″ said New Bedford Police Sgt. Frederic Anselmo. ″We’re in limbo. The cars are being abandoned on side streets and they are staying there because the 16 tow companies working for us have suspended their operations.″

The backup began after the voluntary closings in June of Prolerized New England Co., of Everett, and a subsidiary, Patriot Metals of Worcester.

The closings came after the state Department of Environmental Quality Engineering determined in June there were high levels of PCBs and oil byproducts in the residue, called fluff, from shredded cars at Patriot Metals.

″We since signed a limited compliance agreement on July 11 and they are targeting the threat at both facilities,″ DEQE spokeswoman Katie Stimmel said. ″It calls for the covering of residue stored on site and building some kind of containment facility.″

But it was unclear when the two yards, which handle an estimated 350,000 cars annually, would be able to resume operation.

Joseph Romei, general manager of Prolerized, said he hopes something will happen soon or he may have to lay off workers.

″And I can’t even start to assess the effects of the 900 or so auto wreckers in the state,″ Romei said. ″Once their yards get filled and there is no place to go with cars, there is lot of back-up industry of material.″

The shutdown has forced Boston officials to store about 800 cars, with even more waiting to be towed, said city Transportation Commissioner Richard A. Dimino.

″We have a backlog of 1,500 out there,″ Dimino said. ″We are getting close to capacity. ...″

In all, Massachusetts has four major car shredders and two firms that handle the shredding of such appliances as washing machines.

Once a car is towed by a salvage service, a machine is used to flatten it. Most of the oil, brake fluid and other liquids, are removed during this phase. The metal hulk is then sold to a shredding company, where machine-swung hammers complete the destruction, separating the ferrous metal from non- magnetic metals and other materials.

″Fifty percent of what is shaken out is plain dirt. The rest is plastics, glass, carpeting, rubber around the windows and other things. You can touch it and not come away with any grease or oil on your hands,″ said Romei of Prolerized. ″DEQE said the amount of PCB levels in the fluff was more than 50 parts per million, meaning it was hazardous waste. But from our standpoint, the PCB levels have always been controlled.″

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