Spills in an Autobody Shop: Tips on Prevention and Safe Handling

Many waste and stormwater problems for autobody shops start with accidental spills or improper disposal of oil or other waste products. Following are some tips that will help you to avoid these problems.

1) Always use drip pans when handling any type of liquid in the shop, especially hazardous ones.

2) Use separate drip pans for each fluid to avoid mixing before recycling.

3) Always use funnels during fluid transfer.

4) Do not dispose of any hazardous substance by dumping it down a floor drain, storm drain or on to the ground. Recycle on-site with a solvent recycler or with an off-site recycler.

5) Promptly clean up spills using absorbent materials.

6) Use the least amount of water as possible when cleaning up a spill.

7) Obtain a list of emergency response contact phone numbers including the Ministry of Environment Spills Action Centre (1-800-268-6060) or (416-325-3000) Post lists of these numbers in very visible locations near storage areas.

8) Train staff in dealing with spills of all sizes and types. Make clear, explicit lists of the steps to be taken in cases of emergency. Post these lists in very visible locations near storage areas.

Reporting Spills and Environmental Emergencies

Spills Action Centre
When pollutants are spilled into the environment, the ministry's primary role is to ensure that whoever is responsible for the spill contains it and cleans up the site in accordance with ministry guidelines.

The Spills Action Centre, staffed on a 24-hour basis, receives and records province-wide reports of spills and co-ordinates appropriate responses.

Spills are defined as releases of pollutants into the natural environment originating from a structure, vehicle, or other container, and that are abnormal in light of all circumstances. Spills must be reported immediately to the ministry and to the municipality when they cause or are likely to cause any of the following:

- impairment to the quality of the natural environment - air, water, or land;
- injury or damage to property or animal life;
- adverse health effects;
- safety risk;
- making property, plant, or animal life unfit for use;
- loss of enjoyment of normal use of property; or
- interference with the normal conduct of business.

If you believe you may have a spill or other environmental emergency, call the Spills Action Centre.

Spills Action Centre
5775 Yonge Street
10th floor
North York ON M2M 4J1
Toll Free: 1-800-268-6060
Tel: (416) 325-3000
Fax (416) 325-3011

The Spills Action Centre handles reports of spills and other environmental emergencies. Inquiries about other environmental issues should be directed to the ministry's Public Information Centre.

Ontario legislation to fine 'polluters' for accidental spills

The Ontario government has passed a law mandating that companies found
polluting the environment will be fined on the spot.

Under Bill 133, government inspectors are now awarded the power to fine
companies up to $100,000 a day and individual employees $20,000 a day, for
toxic spills - accidental or not.

The necessary regulations are set to be fully in place by summer 2006, at
which time inspectors will begin doling out fines to environmental
offenders. Dubbed "spills bill," this initiative will require companies to
implement spill prevention plans. Furthermore, collected fines will be fed
into a special fund that will pay for costs incurred through toxic spill
cleanups. This means that the onus to pay for cleaning will be placed on the
companies penalized for polluting, not the taxpayers.

"There was a good deal of evidence that ... in those jurisdictions where
civil penalties are used that the incidence of spills is significantly
reduced," Environment Minster Leona Dombrowsky says.

The "spills bill" was introduced last fall after chemicals from Imperial Oil
leaked into a river near Sarnia. A lobbying group - the Coalition for
Sustainable Environment - consisting of petroleum, chemical, mining,
plastics, auto, cement and steel industry representatives met the new Bill
with full force.

The group states concerns that the bill will require businesses to prove a
spill doesn't violate the law rather than have the government prove it does.
Payment for accidental spills is another concern the group has voiced.