Around 15,000 cars damaged by Hurricane Sandy have been parked on the runways of Calverton Executive Airpark in Riverhead, New York by Insurance Auto Auctions.
The cars will be scrapped, used for parts or auctioned. For every acre taken up by the cars at the airpark the town of Riverhead makes about $3,200 per month. The airpark is the former home to the Gumman Corporation, which assembled F-14 Tomcat jet fighters for the U.S. Navy.
However, environmentalists worry that the thousands of vehicles that will be on the site for six to 12 months could leak oil, gasoline and other chemicals into the groundwater.
A spokeswoman for Insurance Auto Auctions denied those claims, saying the firm takes good care of any area that it occupies. The town’s supervisor, Sean Walter, said that the cars are parked only on paved taxiways and runways and that they are inspected for leaks and spills by around 100 workers each day.
Around 230,000 vehicles were damaged or destroyed by Sandy, according to insurance industry estimates. Thousands of them have been stored in vacant lots until insurance claims are processed.
According to New York laws, the titles of damaged vehicles must be stamped “flood” to warn potential owners of problems. Saltwater can ruin computer-controlled fuel and braking systems, heating and air-conditioning, and other components.