Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Hazardous Waste Adventure

I've had a burned out compact fluorescent light bulb sitting in my garage for at least a couple years now. For those of you in Arcata, compact fluorescent bulbs are considered hazardous waste and have to be disposed of as such.

I also had about 40 to 50 pounds of old lawn fertilizer to get rid of- some weed and feed, the rest just plain fertilizer. I decided to take them in to the City Garbage hazardous waste facility on West Hawthorn Street in Eureka today.

I expected this to be an interesting trip, never having been through the hazardous waste facility yet. Turned out it was pretty much a non- event.

You drive in there the same way you go in to the recycling center. You continue past the recycling center and take a left to go around the hazardous waste building. The entrance is on the south side. I blew it because I thought you were supposed to go in where you're actually supposed to exit from the facility. When I noticed my mistake, I swung left and that had me going wrong way into the exit from the recycling center. Luckily no one was leaving the recycling center at the moment so, no harm, no foul.

You get to the entrance of hazardous waste and there's an electronic gate, just like they have at the garbage facility. They open the gate and guide me forward their unloading spot. It had two speed bumps at each end. You park right there. I guess that's important because you can minimize contamination from spills if unloading is all done in one place.

On the left was the gal that takes your info. She asked what my zip code was first, to make sure I was from Eureka, I guess. I then started to get out and explain what I had in the back of my truck and she quickly told me to stay in my car. I guess that's a big thing there. You're supposed to stay in your car. They take the waste out themselves.

I still had to get out of the truck to get money out of my pocket. She didn't seem to like it but what else could she do? By the time I started, once again, to explain what I had in the five gallon buckets, they'd already removed them from the back of the truck and taken them into the building. I gave the gal five bucks- that's standard fee for Eureka residents for up to 15 gallons or 150 pounds- and away I went.

Kind of a nice, efficient operation they have there but I was hoping it would of been a little more interesting than that. Here's info on the hazardous waste disposal if anyone is interested.
As an aside, I was surprised to see how busy City Garbage's recycling center was today. You'd think with mandatory curbside recycling being forced on so many people, business at the recycling center would of slowed down a bit. It was all clogged up when I was there with only two parking spaces open.



At 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quite a coincidence, Fred. I went to the Hawthorne Street Transfer Station myself this morning. My visit was more exciting than yours.

That nice woman took my money after a man took the things from my trunk.

But he didn't take everything. They would not accept a flat stove mat made of thin sheet metal and a thin asbestos sheet. The stove mat was about 30 inches by 30 inches and weighs about 2 pounds.

That stove mat lay flat on my grandparents' kitchen floor under their cast iron stove from 1962 until 1992, protecting the floor from the heat of the wood stove above.

Hundreds of people over the years walked on and around that stove mat. To my knowledge, it never killed a single one of them.

However, today, that humble inoffensive and unbroken stove mat was rejected.

Where had I made my mistake? I told them about it. It was in a sealed black plastic bag. I didn't want them to accidentally break it or tear the bag, causing asbestos particles to fly around where someone might inhale them. Yes, definitely, they were going to accept that bag with the stove mat in it, until I opened my big mouth.

Anyway, the lady gave me a lot of instructions to follow about specially packaging the stove mat. I couldn't remember all that, so I asked for an instruction sheet. She gave it to me and I left without reading it.

She seemed genuinely happy to see me go.

A block or two down the road, I stopped my car and read the information sheet. Fred, if you want to safely dispose of items like the stove mat, that sheet gives detailed instructions on what you must do to prepare your item. They specify the type of duct tape you must use, the exact thickness of plastic you must use to wrap the item, and more.

The sweetest part of the instruction sheet is that whether you want to give the limit of 15 gallons or 50 pounds - or if like me you want to give up an item of only about 2 pounds, you will be required to pay, in addition to other charges, $50.00.

You'll probably enjoy what they call that %50.00 they require us to pay for such items.

It is an "administrative fee." There is no explanation of the term.

In closing, Fred, do you think I am going to jump through all their hoops and pay $50 for the privilege? Or does it make more sense for me to pack the stove mat away in the garage for another seventeen years?

I wonder how many other people decide to take their asbestos-containing items back home with them. Hell, I wonder how many people let their anger get the best of them and throw the toxic junk into the garbage can or somewhere even worse.

Just so you know, I have no intention of putting that stove mat anyplace it could hurt anyone.

At 9:03 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Now that was the kind of adventure I was looking forward to!

As far as that asbestos mat, if it's still usable, maybe put it on Humboldt Freecycle or Craigslist and see if someone else needs it?

At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Left Wing Bohn Fan said...

Rex could probably use that lawn fertilizer out at Redwood Fields. You want I should ask?

At 10:31 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Thanx, but too late. It's already gone. That's actually the best thing to do with stuff like that: Use it for what it's supposed to be used for.

I actually put the fertilizer and some other lawn amendments on Freecycle some years ago. Got rid of everything but the fertilizer. Finally it got so caked up from sitting in the damp garage it became pretty much useless so, because some of it had herbicides in it, I just took it to the hazardous waste disposal site.

It was worth the five bucks to finally get rid of it.

At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Mr. Nice said...

Cheap lawn fertilizer is often mine waste-derived. This means some level of arsenic, cadmium, lead, etc.

Expensive fertilizer is generally purified and not derived from mine waste or sewage.

It is good that you properly disposed of this stuff. Too many people overuse this sludge instead of simple tasks like pH adjustment and aerating grass as we discussed a few months ago.


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