Hazardous waste drop-off offered by Public Works

August 19, 1994|By Matt Ebnet | Matt Ebnet,Sun Staff Writer

County residents with hazardous waste at home -- old paint thinner, batteries -- can get rid of the materials tomorrow, courtesy of the county Department of Public Works.

County Public Works officials are asking residents to bring pesticides, oil-based paints, rug cleaners, de-greasers, drain cleaners and other toxic materials in clearly marked, leakproof or original containers to the Gateway Building, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive. The drop-off program is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Workers will remove the materials from your vehicle.

But leave the explosives at home.

County officials say they won't accept items such as commercial, industrial or medical waste, compressed gas cylinders, explosives or ammunition, anything radioactive, or asbestos.

And, to be safe, leave your children or pets at home, too.

"We don't want the issue of having kids running around the parking lot near the hazardous waste," said Paul McIntyre, household hazardous-waste project manager.

The drop-off day is the first in what Mr. McIntyre says will be a series of six drop-offs a year; three in the spring and three in the fall -- times when residents typically do their housecleaning, he said.

About 15 chemists from an outside company -- Laidlaw Environmental Services Inc. of Laurel -- will be at the Gateway site to unload waste from vehicles and categorize them, grouping the acids, the fuels and so on. The waste is then trucked to a temporary facility in Laurel until it can be taken to hazardous-waste landfills, none of which are in Maryland.

Items such as automotive batteries, motor oil and latex paint won't be accepted at the Gateway site Saturday, but will be recycled if people take them to the Alpha Ridge Landfill.

Mr. McIntyre doesn't know what kind of turnout to expect -- Howard County has never done this -- but similar events in neighboring counties have attracted 300 to 1,200 people, he says.

Officials at the Bureau of Environmental Services, an arm of the Department of Public Works, started the drop-off project because they received many phone calls from residents asking where they should throw away hazardous waste.

"This is all in response to residents' concerns," Mr. McIntyre said.

The point of it all is to prevent safe household wastes from being flushed down drains or thrown in the trash where they can get into the ground water or mix and become toxic.

"That's when the danger comes. They're really all safe by themselves," said Mr. McIntyre.

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