May 17, 2012 | Volume 42, No.20

Junk car collection suspended

Acceptance of old cars and scrap metal at the Lutak sawmill site was discontinued Wednesday, as workers removing toxic fluids, tires and batteries from vehicles there fell behind a steady stream of junkers. The number of wrecks there approached 400, officials with Channel Construction said.

“The problem is we have to have them all drained,” said project foreman Theo Kennedy. “We only have two guys at the drain rack at all times and we’re not getting enough cars done. We’ve got to get it under control (and) shut it down to the public for a little bit.”

There’s a possibility the firm will accept drop-offs from the public again, as a barge to carry the junk south that was expected to arrive this weekend has been delayed for another week, Kennedy said.

“If we get caught up, we’ll call the radio station and (borough officials) and let people know they can start bringing them again,” he said.

It takes about 20 minutes to strip and drain each vehicle, he said. He said it’s uncertain whether the expected barge will have room enough for all the Haines vehicles, as it already will be carrying scrap metal from Prince of Wales Island. “We get stuff from all over Southeast.”

Kennedy said for some owners showing up at the scrap metal pile, giving away a clunker isn’t easy.

“We get some people who are emotionally attached to their vehicles, even when there’s only half a vehicle there. There are guys who come out and say, ‘Man, I really hate to part with this’ and there’s not even full frame left on it. It’s all rusted away. I don’t know what to say when people are like that,” Kennedy said.

The company will continue in coming days to pull buses and heavy machinery from industrial sites and the Haines dump, Kennedy said. People have generally been very positive toward his crew, he said.

“There are a lot of people really happy with us. We’ve been taking cars out of the bushes. They leave them everywhere,” he said.