Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stormwater Heroes - Gundie's Automotive

Gundie's Automotive Recyclers is the #1 supplier of OEM recycled auto parts from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, BC. They were founded in Bellingham in 1961 and now operate facilities in Graham and Portland, Oregon. Their Whatcom facility houses 2,500 wrecked autos, several large buildings for dismantling, storage units, a crusher, an office, and an engine wash station. For over ten years, Gundie’s has operated under an industrial stormwater discharge permit from the Washington State Department of Ecology, and in accordance with their permit, they collect samples for turbidity, pH, visual oil & grease, copper, lead, and zinc.
Gundie’s manages stormwater in a responsible manner with a well-designed and serviceable stormwater conveyance system. It works as oily compounds are absorbed onto filters, which are regularly checked and changed. Sediment and other solids settle out in sediment traps, inside concrete vaults.

These practices are evidence of a complete transformation over the past ten years. A decade ago, when a Department of Ecology inspector visited Gundie’s on a rainy day to conduct a storm water inspection, the water running over the land looked like a “shimmering oil slick.” Since then, they have changed their practices so that all of the auto dismantling is done under cover; all fluids are removed from the autos, and stored inside, in labeled containers, with secondary containment, and no exposure to water. These actions have put an end to the shimmering oil problem, and the place is spotless now.

The clean water that flows from Gundie’s ends up in Squalicum Creek, which is important fish habitat. According to our friends at Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, Coho and Chum Salmon, and Cutthroat and Steelhead Trout all live in this creek. Steelhead are listed under the Endangered Species Act, and Cutthroat and Coho are currently candidates for listing. RE Sources applauds the efforts that Gundie’s has employed over the past decade. In 2011, they were nominated as an Environmental Heroes. RE Sources enjoys working with Gundie’s and has offered site visits in the past to see how they lead as Stormwater Heroes in our community.

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