Hazardous waste gets proper home

LIHU’E — Hundreds of batteries, a few thousand gallons of paint, pesticides

and herbicides were collected during a household hazardous waste pickup project

sponsored by Kaua’i County last month.

The project was deemed a success by

the county Department of Public Works.

More people participated in the

project this year than last year, said Troy Tanigawa, the county’s solid-waste

coordinator.

Had the materials not been collected, they might have been

dumped on back roads or in rural areas and could have become environmental

hazards, Tanigawa said.

Grace Simmons, a supervisor with the state

Department of Health’s Hazardous Waste Division, said the two-day project

helped divert hazardous waste from entering the Kekaka landfill.

Although

the landfill is lined, parts of it could become shredded over time, allowing

liquid from hazardous materials to leech into groundwater sources, she said.

The chemicals could degrade the quality of the water and increase the risk

of damage to marine animals offshore, where “irreparable damage” would be done,

Simmons said.

Allowing these chemicals to enter our waste stream increases

the risk of serious health and environmental hazards, Tanigawa said.

He said the county program provides a disposal alternative for chemicals

that are “precarious and costly to dispose of.”

The collection was

conducted by EnviroServices and Training Center, a Honolulu-based contractor,

at the Hanalei and Kapa’a transfer stations on June 10 and at the Hanapepe and

Lihu’e transfer stations on June 11.

Tanigawa said people deposited 313

automobile lead acid batteries, 170 pounds of non-liquid and 1,000 gallons of

liquids. Officials identified the latter as being either “ignitables,”

solvents, oil-based paints, pesticides and herbicides.

All of the waste

will be shipped off-island. The batteries are to be delivered to a

subcontractor of EnviroServices for disposal, and the liquids are being put in

containers to be sent to the mainland for disposal, Tanigawa said.

The

hazardous-waste collections got under way in 1987 with federal funds to dispose

of chemicals and cleansers from households and businesses. But because funds

have not always been available, the project hasn’t been staged yearly, Simmons

said.

The collections were held in 1991 and again in 1992, after Hurricane

Iniki, when federal funds were available, she said.

Since 1996, the state

has left it up to the county—because it maintains the landfill—to conduct the

collection projects, Simmons said.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be

reached at 246-3681 (ext. 225) or lchang@pulitzer.net

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