'We're doing something wrong': Environmentalist questions central Newfoundland scrap yard

Bill Montevecchi has serious concerns about the environmental impact a Cobb's Arm scrap yard could have on marine life and wildlife in Notre Dame Bay.

Bill Montevecchi says scrap yard could have impact on marine life, wildlife in Notre Dame Bay

Bill Montevecchi says he is cocnerned the location of a scrap yard in Cobb's Arm Pond could hurt local wildlife and marine life. (CBC News)

A scrap yard by the sea at Cobb's Arm Pond has one local researcher seriously concerned for the harmful impact it could have on local wildlife and marine life.

Bill Montevecchi, professor and researcher at Memorial University, says government spot checks at George Saunder's junkyard are simply not enough.

"There should be long-term monitoring," said Monetvecchi. "You might check 20 times and see nothing. Maybe in time 27 something happens."

Saunders said all the oil he salvages is properly contained.

However, Montevecchi said there is more to the problem than just barreling motor oil.

"But what's all the other junk around a car, like the antifreeze and … transmission fluids," he said. "We're talking about a cocktail that we don't even know what it is."

George Saunders operates a scrap yard on the shore of Cobb's Arm Pond. Local residents and environmentalists are worried, despite government approval and spot checks. (CBC News)

The scrap yard has been in operation since 2010, and was once the site of a children's playground.

While Monetvecchi said the recycling that Saunders does near Notre Dame Bay is important, it's the location of the operation that is worrisome.

Toxic chemicals that could be going into the ocean is to nobody's benefit.- Bill Montevecchi

"There's a tremendous fishery at Notre Dame Bay," he said. "There's a lobster fishery right outside that causeway. There's eider ducks that feed all around those places, nesting in those areas. Residual chemicals, toxic chemicals that could be going into the ocean is to nobody's benefit."

Saunders said he estimates nearly 800 cars and thousands of litres of oil have been salvaged, adding there has never been a spill at his site. 

Montevecchi applauds Saunders' efforts to recycle and clean up the area around Notre Dame Bay. But while he acknowledges Saunders is following the rules, he worries those rules could be outdated.

"Not that long ago we heard the regulation that you can smoke and put toxins in your lungs," said Montevecchi.

"You don't have to worry about that — you're not breaking any medical regulations. We're in that kind of situation where regulations are not being broken, but we're doing something wrong."