Scrapyards, shredders face growing resistance from local communities to setting up shop

Mar 01, 2010 | 06:20 AM | Michael Marley

When a recycling executive comes before town planners with a proposal to open a scrapyard, he or she can expect to be questioned at length about its operations.

Scrapyard operators may be one of the few businesses that will take over a brownfield industrial site and improve it. They'll help clean up the mess that a manufacturer or chemical producer left behind when it pulled up stakes and moved overseas, where environmental rules often are easier to live with or don't even exist.

Today's scrapyards are paved to prevent toxic substances from draining through the ground and polluting the water table; storm water retention basins are installed to prevent runoff from contaminating a nearby stream or river; and the perimeter of the yard is fenced and in many cases lined with trees and other landscaping to hide society's discarded waste like old vehicles and appliances.

Despite the good recyclers do, few people want to live next door to a scrapyard or an auto dismantler. That's understandable; these places are not as attractive as parks and woodlands. But in some instances, the scrapyard was on the fringe of a town or city when that site was undesirable land—before urban sprawl brought housing developments and shopping malls.....

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