Household hazards can be safely tossed in Eagle Co. |

Household hazards can be safely tossed in Eagle Co.

Connie Steiert
Eagle Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Rebecca Moidel/EnterpriseEagle County Landfill Manager Ron Rasnic and hazardous waste specialist Pallavi Mukerjee will keep potentially harmful materials at a storage site in Wolcott.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” We use them every day: disinfectants, cleansers, paints and batteries. Available at our drug and grocery stores without a prescription or background check, why would we give a second thought before tossing them in the trash or pouring them down the drain?

Here’s one reason:

“Our wastewater facility is a biological facility,” says Chris Mayne, waste water manager for the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District. “It’s very difficult to treat a solvent, or anything that is not biologically-based.”

Instead, that material passes through the system, and then enters rivers and streams untreated. The chemicals can also kill the micro-organisms used to treat wastewater.

Although the district doesn’t usually know which chemicals make it through because that would involve countless tests, Mayne suspects thousands of different products wind up in the river.

Additionally, putting these items in the garbage can pose a health hazard to trash collectors and at landfills. Throwing them in the backyard can create toxic conditions.

“If not disposed of properly, it can create a hazard to the health of ourselves, our family and our pets,” says Ron Rasnic, Eagle County’s solid waste and recycling manger.

Last April, the Eagle County Landfill hired Pallavi Mukerjee, a hazardous waste specialist, to build a household hazardous waste collection site at the landfill. The landfill hopes to break ground this month on the 1,800-square-foot facility where residents can dropped off household hazardous waste free of charge.

The landfill plans to open the facility on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Saturdays, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The facility will accept products that might ignite or catch fire, irritate the skin, be corrosive, reactive, toxic, or poisonous. This includes motor oil, pesticides, nail polish remover, paint and hair dyes, among other products.

Materials will be sorted and then sent via a specialized contractor to be either properly disposed of or recycled. The landfill will not take explosives, medical waste, radioactive waste or unidentified items. Nor is the landfill currently equipped to take electrical devices, such as televisions and computers.

“As we move forward, we hope to further expand what we can take,” Rasnic says.

Eagle County residents must prove they’re residents ” with a driver’s license or another form of identification ” before dropping materials off for free.

Small business can drop materials off for a free based on the weight of the load.

The facility will include a ‘green’ element as well. It will be powered in large part by a boiler system that runs on wood pellets. These pellets will be made from trees cut down in the region after being killed by pine beetles.

The power system will add about $100,000 to the facility cost, but Rasnic sees that a good investment

The following is a short list of things that may be in your home, but should be disposed of in a hazardous waste area at a landfill ” not in your trash or sink:

– Paint and paint-related products

– Motor oil and filters

– Anti-freeze

– Pesticides, lawn spray and weed killers

– Household cleaners

– Mercury thermostats

– Batteries

– Fluorescent bulbs

– Hair dyes

– Compressed gas cylinders

– Some nail polish and nail polish removers

Until the new Household Hazardous Waste Facility is open in Eagle County this summer, you can drop off these items for free at the county landfill’s 14th annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection event on March 15. Appointments are required, and the landfill will start taking appointments sometime later this month. Call 926-3626.

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