A number of Central Alberta auto shop owners came face to face with Alberta Environment earlier this month after a sudden sweep of inspections was conducted in Stettler, Innisfail and Sylvan Lake.
The series of inspections, conducted on Oct. 8 and 9 by the Red Deer Compliance Team, was an educational way to ensure businesses are compliant with Alberta Environment law and regulations.
The sweep is also to prevent fines or other penalties down the road, said Alberta Environment communications officer Sarah Jackson.
No fines were issued in any of the 41 businesses visited by environment protection officers.
Officers did, however, provide business owners with reports noting deficiencies and areas of concern that were to be taken care of within a designated amount of time.
“While some of these issues will cost the businesses, they are items that must be done to follow environmental laws and regulations. This sweep was not just an exercise in getting businesses to have things such as secondary containment established — some of these businesses had contamination issues due to improper storage that is already causing environmental impacts, great and small. There are real consequences to these violations,” Jackson said.
Kevin Massignan, owner of Specialty Automotive Repairs in Innisfail, said he estimates he’s spent between $5,000 to $6,000 since the inspector visit.
“They required me to get a double wall oil pan and build a containment shed to put it all inside. We sucked the shop sumps out, too. It was just something we had to do,” said Massignan, who has run his business for 15 years.
“It’s all about keeping things green and that’s good so I don’t have a problem doing it other than the money and that it’s a busy time of year for us. I think they should have given us more time to do the things we had to. I was told I had 15 days initially.”
Kevin Duncalfe, owner of Trophy Collision Ltd. in Sylvan Lake, agrees about needing more time for upgrades.
Duncalfe had to upgrade the way he stored hazardous goods and figured he spent a couple thousand dollars to comply after the inspection.
“The things they found here, I was thinking of doing it anyway. … I’m putting a shelter around one of our storage units to keep rainwater and snow off of it,” he said.
Duncalfe was also given two weeks to put together a compliance plan, outlining how he would go about upgrading.
“I don’t have a tanker truck full of oil parked on a riverbank with a flat tire ready to fall over and dump it into a river. It doesn’t need to be jumped all over and done immediately. Give us more time,” he said.
Jackson said Alberta Environment respects business owners’ time frames and “works with them, when possible.”
It was the first time Duncalfe and Massignan were ever included in such a sweep.
“It is good they go around because some people are extremely sloppy,” Duncalfe said.
Jackson said these sweeps have been going on in the province at randomly selected times for a number of years and do not just target auto shops. The October sweep also looked at car rental agencies, truck lines, businesses that work with boats and marine equipment, and equipment rental businesses.