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7 salvage yards earn praise for their anti-pollution efforts

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Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, left, with Patekka Bannister, storm water coordinator for the City of Toledo, praises Sou and Rada Eltatawy of RADA & Sons. RADA & Sons was one of seven firms honored by the city and TMACOG on Thursday for conservation work near the Ottawa River.

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Toledo Mayor Mike Bell and the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments on Thursday honored seven auto salvage yards operating near the Ottawa River for their efforts to keep the waterway clean and protected from contaminants.

“It is nice, when we have all these regulations, but then we have people who want to do it voluntarily,” Mayor Bell said during a news conference at the Toledo Botanical Gardens.

The salvage yards recognized were Cherry Picked Auto Parts, Nationwide Auto Parts, Northtown Auto Parts, OmniSource, R & M Recycling, Rada & Sons, and Westwood Auto Parts.

Each company went above and beyond a program designed to keep fluids from wrecked cars from leaking into the waterway.

The program is unusual to the region and funded by a $270,000 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant from the U.S. EPA. Tetra Tech Inc. was paid $195,000 for water testing and inspections at 12 businesses. The company will collect storm water samples upstream and downstream of scrap yards to determine the effectiveness of the program with corresponding reports. TMACOG received $70,600 for technical assistance with geographical mapping. Another $5,000 was used to help pay for bioswales at some of the salvage yards. Bioswales are manmade drainage courses that aid in blocking some pollutants from entering a waterway.

“All the plans were site-specific for each business and these seven each paid for things above and beyond the program,” said Jen Sorgenfrei, the mayor’s spokesman. “So they had some skin in the game.”

Kim Bragg, office manager of Cherry Picked Auto Parts, said part of its effort included placing pans under each wrecked vehicle to catch vehicle fluids.

“We pull all the fluids out of every vehicle,” Ms. Bragg said. “It’s just one of those things we wanted to do to make sure we can protect the environment. We have 1,500 to 2,000 vehicles and we buy about 100 a week.”

Toledo Environmental Services Manager Tim Murphy said a $40 million cleanup of contaminated sediment from the Ottawa River concluded in 2011 and this program is meant to help it stay clean.

Each of the 12 salvage yards in the program was given a report and tool kit customized for their property. The report cited areas for improvement, described best practices for management of the yard, and provided guidance for establishing bioswales, retention ponds, or other solutions to reduce contamination.

“The work to improve our waterways today and for future generations will never stop, but many hands make light work,” Mr. Bell said. “The participation of these private businesses to reduce contamination of the Ottawa River and protect the waterway shows a commitment to our local environment and a commitment to be a good citizen in this community.”

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.

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