Your Cart


DES-Lifetime-Achievement-Award-300x241Earlier this year on Earth Day the U.S. EPA Award Environmental Merit Awards for Lifetime Achievement to the team of Jeff Kantor and Bob Phelps, two NH Motor Vehicle Recyclers. This award recognized over 20 years of environmental stewardship and highlighted the successes of the partnership between the motor vehicle recycling industry and NHDES. To emphasize the innovative work done by these two men, their industry partners and the NHDES staff involved, it is worth exploring how the NH Green Yards Program went from a small compliance assurance project for junkyards to a nationally-recognized environmental program for motor vehicle recycling facilities (MVRFs).
In the mid-1990s, NHDES determined that there needed to be a strategy for improving work practices at junkyards that manage end-of-life vehicles. These vehicles may contain a number of environmental pollutants, such as gasoline, motor oil, lubricants and antifreeze, which is why activities at these types of facilities are regulated by various local, state and federal authorities. Because of this, implementation of compliance assurance measures was confusing to regulators and operators alike, leaving a daunting task for the newly-appointed NH Green Yards Program Manager, Pamela Sprague (now Hoyt- Denison). She proposed that before NHDES took any action, staff first needed to learn about the industry practices and educate operators on the potential hazards. Only then would NHDES be ready to develop a regulatory approach to protect the environment.
In 2002, NHDES surveyed approximately 200 facilities across the state about fluids management, stormwater permits and solid waste management. Not surprisingly, the results showed a lack of understanding of environmental regulations, but not necessarily intentional mismanagement. Not long after the surveys, Jeff Kantor and Bob Phelps came knocking on NHDES’ door with a handshake, an open door policy and the backing of the entire Auto & Truck Recycling Association of NH (ATRA). The members of ATRA understood that the future of their businesses and industry were in their hands and they were prepared to step up and work for the greater good.
Having acknowledged the importance of the industry and the common goal of instilling sustainable change at the facilities to preserve the integrity of NH’s air, land and water, the work began. With the assistance of ATRA and NHDES’ Pollution Prevention Program, the NH Green Yards Program was implemented in two phases. Phase I – Education and Compliance Assistance – included workshops on the health and environmental hazards that come with the industry, open houses at facilities and a conference at which then Governor Lynch assisted Bob with the removal of mercury switches, which were used for lighting controls, among other uses, in vehicles. Phase II – Environmental Self-Audit and Compliance Certification – consisted of a blitz of Best Management Practices compliance inspections conducted by a multitude of NHDES inspectors and the deployment of a Self- Audit Checklist created specifically for facility owners to share with their employees on how to comply with the environmental regulations. It was during this time that an increasing number of NH’s wells were found to be contaminated with MtBE, an octane-enhancing additive to gasoline. The Program was able to work with the remediation teams and the facility operators to quickly investigate if the contamination stemmed from activities at the MVRFs. Those facilities that were contaminated now hold groundwater monitoring permits and are being remediated. Without the collaborative efforts of the industry, this effort would have been far less efficient.
With Phase I complete and Phase II well on its way, a legislative study commission of industry stakeholders was convened to review state statutes and rules on how the industry is regulated. One of Jeff’s favorite sayings is, “If you don’t like the rule, then change it!” He and Bob knew the rule writing process well and knew how to make their views heard at the State House and on Capitol Hill, Their work promoted legislation reflecting the modernization of the industry and its importance to our state and nation.
In the past few years, the NH Green Yards Program completed a portion of an online training program designed to assist municipal officials in implementing local licensing of these facilities. Jeff, Bob and other members of ATRA were instrumental in bringing the training program to life. On camera, they related how the old practices of dumping fluids on the ground, burning cars and burying waste are no longer recognized as the way to operate. They stressed the importance of well-run facilities to municipalities. In 2014, we lost Bob to cancer; and, recently Jeff retired from the business due to his own battle with cancer. The work continues, however. Directly due to Bob and Jeff’s influence, the next generation of auto recyclers has accepted the challenge of maintaining environmental sustainability. ATRA members and NHDES staff continue to collaborate to eliminate the potential for contamination from gasoline and its components.
The landscape of NH’s motor vehicle recycling industry is vastly different than it was just 15 years ago and the Environmental Merit Award was a fitting recognition of the environmental protection achieved by Jeff, Bob and the NHDES Green Yards Program staff. There is still a lot of work to do but the knowledge gained in deploying environmentally-sustainable business practices through the partnership between the industry and NHDES have the Granite State at the forefront of “greening the junkyards.”

Simple modal box
Part Inquiry Form