Junked cars piling up as scrap metal market tanks

EXCLUSIVE: Rise in junked cars linked to collapse in scrap metal market

PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Over the past year, large stockpiles of junked cars have been accumulating around Oahu and some blame the collapse of the scrap metal market.

With the price of scrap metal dropping from five cents a pound to a penny, there's little incentive to recycle old cars once their engine and other usable parts are removed.

"For the little guy it gets tough because they're depending on making money on this. I can tell you based on our experience they aren't making money at all," said Steve Joseph, vice president of operations at PVT Land Co.

At ABC Towing's yard in Pearl City, junked cars are stacked three high.

The company was forced to pay a $34,000 fine two years ago when it had fewer cars at its lot. Back then, the state Health Department said it didn't take adequate steps to keep toxic car fluids from leaking into the Waiawa Stream next door.

"The problem is they're collecting tires, cars, plastics, glasses and what have you and all of that is potentially if you have another rain wash off into the stream," said environmental activist Carroll Cox.

"It's worse in a sense that we've told the state and the state has come and fined them substantially on several occasions."

Drone video shot Monday shows that the company appears to be storing a lot more cars, potentially creating a risk to the environment.

Stockpiles of junked cars like these are a growing problem elsewhere.

For instance, residents in Waialua have complained for months about the hundreds of old cars accumulating along Kaukonahua Road.

Joseph said it may be years before the recycling market improves to the point that auto wreckers will have a profitable place to take their wrecks.

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