Household hazardous waste finds a home


News editor

May 17, 2006

A crushed AA battery lay on the road near Erwin Swetnam’s feet Monday.

It was hardly surprising, given that Swetnam stood just inside the gate of Hood River Garbage Service transfer station, a facility he manages.

But by this summer, batteries won’t have to go into the garbage anymore, or wind up ground up in the gravel.

Paint, chemicals, solvents and other harmful substances can be safely disposed of in the new Household Hazardous Waste Facility, now being installed at the transfer station.

The first collection date is tentatively scheduled for July 8, according to recycling coordinator Cissy Ramos.

“The household hazardous waste site is going to accommodate things that are toxic or need special handling such as paints — lead-based — and pesticides, and cadmium batteries A, B, C, and D, cell batteries,” Ramos said.

Swetnam, Ramos and other transfer station staff watched as Cherokee General Contractors of Portland and Honald Crane Service of The Dalles lifted the 15,000-pound waste storage unit, a three-section modular structure designed to storehouse chemicals until they can be safely packaged and transported to incineration, recycling or other disposal. It has been paid for over the past three years by a 45-cent surcharge on every 32-gallon can of garbage brought to the transfer station. The facility was built in Los Angeles by Environmental Compliance Products.

“It’s a turnkey waste storage facility,” said Mark Ressler, Cherokee project engineer.

“This definitely adds a new wrinkle to all that we do out here,” said Swetnam of the household waste facility’s placement inside the gated compound where area residents bring garbage as well as recyclable paper, glass, cardboard, aluminum and tin cans, scrap metal, yard waste, and other products.

Next to the transfer station shed rests the recently-added drop station for reusable building materials, the Garbage Service’s new partnership with the nonprofit Gorge Rebuild-It Center.

The household waste facility is located just inside the gate of the transfer station. It will be put to use roughly six times a year in publicized “household hazardous waste events” coordinated through Hood River County and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, offered free of charge, according to Swetnam. Such events have been held in Hood River County periodically, but the $300,000 waste station gives the community a permanent location for the service.

“It's going to be really a nice service to the county having this facility here,” Swetnam said. He noted, however, that latex paint is not among the household waste products that will be accepted at the facility. How, then, to dispose of it?

“Paint, and repaint,” he said. “Donate it, or open the can and let it dry out.” Then, toss out the can.

Swetnam said that the community can now start storing up household hazardous wastes, aside from the latex, assured of a place to safely dispose of it. When the facility goes into use, the three bright quadrants labeling each section will be color-coded to signify which types of substances can be stored together in each compartment.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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