Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Costs of Spring Cleaning: Oklahoma Cities Site Need for, Expense of Hazardous Waste Collecting

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Costs of Spring Cleaning: Oklahoma Cities Site Need for, Expense of Hazardous Waste Collecting

Article excerpt

David Griesel wants your junk.

The general manager of the Oklahoma Environmental Management Authority is asking El Reno residents to clean out their cabinets, garages and barns and bring in hazardous waste. The annual 10-week waste collection event started Wednesday, and Griesel hopes to increase recycling awareness and get dangerous chemicals out of people's homes.

City and county residents can bring hazardous waste such as electronics, appliances, automotive fluids and tires to the OEMA facility in El Reno and landfill in Union City. Griesel said residents must pay to dispose of some materials, but the fee covers the cost to remove hazardous waste such as mercury from compact fluorescent light bulbs and refrigerant from appliances.

The cost to run the 10-week event is part of the agency's annual budget, Griesel said. However, that isn't the case for many cities that operate special collection events.

In Norman, the city spent $75,000 for its Nov. 3 hazardous waste collection event, said Debbie Smith, environmental services coordinator. During the one-day, five-hour event, three to five cars per minute dropped off waste.

The city collected 66,000 pounds of paint; 28,000 pounds of chemicals, such as pool cleaners and solvents; 1,000 gallons of motor oil; 175 gallons of antifreeze; 31,000 pounds of electronics; 225 automotive batteries; and 400 tires, as well as narcotics, pounds of mercury and ammunition.

There is definitely a need for a permanent disposal site, Smith said. Her office receives, on average, one call per day from residents inquiring about where to drop hazardous waste, she said. However, the cost of a permanent site is prohibitive.

The collection events are important because without a proper disposal option, hazardous items end up in people's yards, in their trash or down the drain. Hazardous items pose threats for accidental poisonings and for firefighters and sanitation workers, she said. Sanitation trucks can catch fire when residents put chemicals in the garbage. Similarly, chemicals can create toxic smoke in household fires, which poses threats to firefighters, she said.

In Tulsa, the Metropolitan Environmental Trust also collected waste from about five cars per minute. …

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