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Most City offices closed Wednesday, June 19, to observe Juneteenth

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Prevent Pollution from Vehicle and Equipment Maintenance

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Solvents, oil, grease, auto fluids, and other chemicals from outdoor vehicle and equipment maintenance are prohibited from entering the stormwater system. Implement best management practices to prevent spills and keep pollutants out of stormwater to help prevent pollution and meet city requirements.
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The City's Role

The federal Clean Water Act requires cities to set rules and regulations to protect the city's sewer and stormwater systems and its watersheds. Environmental Services works with business and industry to meet these requirements.

Activities like outdoor vehicle and equipment maintenance have the potential to discharge pollutants– if not properly stored, handled, or contained – from solvents, oil, grease, auto fluids, and other chemicals to the stormwater system, which violates city code and may jeopardize public health and the environment.

Rules and Regulations

Portland City Code 17.39 prohibits the discharge of harmful substances into the stormwater system. The discharge of spilled materials or pollutants into the stormwater system generated by vehicle and equipment maintenance processes may result in investigations, issuance of penalties, and required corrective actions.

The 2020 Source Control Manual describes requirements for equipment and vehicle storage and repair that all new and remodeled areas must meet. The requirements go beyond what is described on this page and include pavement, covering, containment curbs, drainage requirements, and treatment, to keep area pollutants contained and prevent mobilization of contaminants from the maintenance areas.

Prevent Pollution through Best Management Practices 

Site Location and Conditions 

  • Perform all maintenance activities indoors or undercover.
  • If indoors or undercover is not feasible, use a designated maintenance area with berms and/or appropriate drainage routing to minimize rain from washing over outdoor maintenance areas.
  • Perform all maintenance activities on paved surfaces.  
  • Stormwater runoff from maintenance areas should not drain to the storm sewer system.

Leaks and Spills 

  • If temporary maintenance work is conducted outside, place a tarp, drop cloth, or drip pan underneath vehicles and equipment to capture all spills and drips. 
  • Do not hose down the work area to clean it. Contaminated water could enter the storm sewer system. Use dry methods such as sweeping and absorbent pads to clean the work area. 
    • Rags or spill pads can be used for cleaning small spills, and a damp mop can be used for general cleaning. Dispose of any mop/wash water in the sanitary sewer. 
    • Use sorbent materials such as kitty litter, sawdust, spill pads, and booms to contain spills. Ensure absorbent material is cleaned up after use and disposed of properly. 
  • Examine vehicles and equipment awaiting maintenance for leaks.
  • Place drip pans under vehicles to collect leaking fluids for recycling or proper disposal.
  • Promptly transfer the used fluids to the proper waste or recycling drums.
  • Open containers, including full drip pans, should not be left lying around the site.
  • Designate a central area for draining and replacing motor oil, coolant, and other fluids.
  • Leaking vehicles should be stored inside or undercover.

Cleaning and Disposal 

  • Clean vehicles and equipment and parts without using solvents. 
    • This will save on disposal costs since many solvents must be disposed of as hazardous wastes. 
    • Parts can be scraped with a wire brush. If solvents are used, designate a centralized cleaning station to keep solvents and residues in one location.  
    • Use drip pans, funnels, drain boards, and drying racks to direct drips and spills into a fluid tank for reuse. 
  • Use non-toxic or less toxic solvents and cleaners. Examples include using non-caustic detergents for parts cleaning and using detergent-based and water-based cleaning systems instead of organic solvent degreasers. 
    • Avoid using chlorinated solvents. Replace chlorinated degreasers, such as trichloroethane or methylene chloride, with non-chlorinated solvents. Chlorinated solvents are dangerous to human health and the environment.  
    • Use recyclable parts washers. Call your parts washer fluid recycler for information. 
  • Never pour leftover cleaning solutions, solvents, and automotive fluids into storm drain inlets, ditches, floor drains, sinks, or sanitary sewer due to the toxicity of these substances. 
    • Any floor drains in the maintenance area connected to the storm or sanitary sewer should be plugged. 
    • Post signs at sinks, storm drains, floor drains, and other potential storm or sanitary sewer discharge points to train employees.
    • Contact the materials distributor to see if unused material can be returned or for information to determine the proper disposal method. 
    • Purchase only the material needed. Do not stockpile. 
  • Place used oil filters in funnels over used oil containers to drain excess oil. Crush and recycle oil filters. 
  • Store cracked batteries in a non-leaking secondary container to contain acid leaks. Neutralizers like baking soda can be used. Sweep up residue. 
  • Recycle used materials. 
    • Separate wastes to reduce treatment costs and make recycling efforts easier. For example, keep chlorinated solvents separate from non-chlorinated solvents, separate hazardous and non-hazardous waste, and do not mix used oil and solvents. 
    • Visit Metro Recycling for recycling and waste disposal options. 

Planning and Training 

  • Discuss pollution prevention measures with employees and seek their suggestions on waste reduction. Consider incentives for employees, such as a reward program, to promote pollution prevention. 
  • Develop a spill prevention and response plan.  
  • Ensure employees are trained on the proper best management practices to minimize the potential for pollutants entering the sewer and stormwater systems.

Failure to implement applicable best management practices listed above may result in the discharge of pollutants which is a violation of Portland City Code. The City will issue enforcement action in the form of a civil penalty if pollutants are discharged from your facility. Appropriate measures to prevent the discharge of pollutants are required.