Whether right or wrong, much of the public associates wrecking yards with smoke, noise and ugliness. But many of the nation’s 6,000 auto-salvage junkyards are reclaiming land that had been once filled with apple orchards, vegetable gardens and even a zoo. And some of them are breaking environmental laws, contaminating fragile groundwater supplies and polluting the environment. At the Blackburn’s auto-salvage site behind a Kmart in Hyannis, for example, elevated levels of lead and antimony have been found in the soil.

Some of the contaminated sites are located in residential areas and some near or on major highways where they often are unscreened from view. Frequently, they are in the edge of city limits or in areas where municipal or extraterritorial zoning does not apply. Moreover, the contaminated sites are sometimes crowded together.

The local government needs to address the proliferation of these facilities by requiring them to get permits and comply with other requirements, such as screening and landscaping, and providing more oversight. It should also consider imposing a fee on wrecking yards to offset the cost of complying with regulations. Moreover, it should require that they be named for what they do, rather than just calling them scrap yards or auto salvage. This would help the public understand what the yards are doing and why they are doing it. It will make the junkyards more transparent and will hopefully improve their image. Car junk yard cape coral


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