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Hazardous Waste Day 2011

 
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Hazardous Waste Day


Hazardous Waste Day is a free service for Buxton residents to properly dispose of Household Hazardous Waste.  Hazardous Waste Day helps prevent pollution from the improper disposal of toxic materials in our community.  This service is for residential hazardous waste only.  We will not accept industrial or commercial wastes.  The next Hazardous Waste Day will be  
October 5, 2013
at the Transfer Station.  Proof of residency is required.

Hazardous Waste includes antifreeze, pesticides, fertilizers, asbestos, explosives, oil based paint and stains, gasoline or other petroleum products, solvents, acids, transformers, miscellaneous chemicals, and mercury containing items such as thermometers, thermostats, fluorescent lights (tube and screw in compacts), high pressure sodium lights, hearing aid & other button type batteries, rechargeable batteries, & mercury switches.

We can’t accept biological or medical waste on Hazardous Waste Day.  Please see the “medical waste disposal” section of the Solid Waste & Recycling page on the Town web site, or call the Transfer Station at 929-3913 for disposal information.

Section 1.3.e. of the Solid Waste Ordinance defines Hazardous Waste as follows:
Hazardous Waste:  Shall mean any waste which by reason of its composition, characteristics or other inherent properties is dangerous to handle by ordinary means, or which may present a substantial risk to health or safety, or which presents a reasonable possibility of adversely affecting the operation of the disposal facilities.  

If you can’t make it to Hazardous Waste Day, call the Transfer Station at 929-3913 to discuss options.  We will work with you to keep this material out of our community’s environment.  Improper disposal of hazardous waste is a violation of the Solid Waste Ordinance, and can pollute our water supply and food chain.  Please do the right thing and take advantage of this free service.


Hazardous Waste Day
Saturday,  October  5, 2013
From 10am to 2pm
At The Buxton Transfer Station

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The Importance of Hazardous Waste Day


Dear Residents of Buxton,

Hazardous Waste Day is an important service that helps safeguard the health and safety of Buxton’s residents and environment.  Hazardous Waste Day helps prevent the improper disposal of hazardous wastes that could otherwise pollute our community’s environment.  Buxton residents rely on well water for their drinking, cooking, and bathing needs.  This makes us more vulnerable to the effects of groundwater pollution.  If we don’t have Hazardous Waste Day, residents will find other ways of getting rid of their hazardous waste.  Unfortunately, this often means dumping this toxic material on Buxton’s roadsides or in out of the way fields used as illegal dumping grounds.  If we don’t give the public a safe method of hazardous waste disposal, a significant amount will end up illegally dumped and eventually work its way into our groundwater supply.  

A common argument against having Hazardous Waste Day is that since we’ve had this service for many years in a row, there can’t be much Hazardous Waste left in our community.  This argument overlooks some important points.  Many of the consumer goods currently sold in stores and brought home by Buxton residents are Hazardous.  These goods include pesticides, fertilizers, cleaning agents, petroleum products, oil based paints and stains, solvents, mercury containing products, acids, and other items.  Some of the more common items that contain mercury or other toxins include fluorescent bulbs, hearing aid and other button type batteries, thermometers, thermostats, and rechargeable batteries.  These consumer goods are still being purchased and brought into our community by current residents.  Hazardous Wastes will continue to be an issue for our community until they are eliminated from consumer products currently sold to our residents.

There is also the problem of older stockpiles of hazardous material being stored in barns, basements, and garages throughout Buxton.  Many of these materials are deemed so hazardous that they are now illegal to sell to consumers.  Examples of these materials include certain forms of asbestos, creosote, antifreeze, and many of the older pesticides and chemical compounds such as DDT and PCB’s.  Buxton’s history as a rural farming community makes it likely that there are still barns around with dusty piles of forgotten pesticides, fertilizers, and other hazardous materials.  As ownership of these properties changes hands over time, these materials are disposed of in one way or another.  

In 2004, we had a Buxton resident drop off two (2) five gallon buckets full of liquid mercury.  This highly toxic material had been in his attic when he purchased his home, and had remained there ever since.  If this home had ever caught fire, it would have presented a significant health hazard to the emergency responders and the surrounding neighborhoods.  Toxic items such as mercury also pose a health and safety risk to curious children, pets, and anyone unfortunate enough to come in contact with this material.  

2008 and 2009’s Hazardous Waste Days were some of the busiest in many years.  In previous years, Hazardous Waste Day was held in July, when people are on vacation or otherwise busy with summer activities.  In 2008 & 2009, we held Hazardous Waste Day at the end of September.  Fall seems to be a better time to hold Hazardous Waste Day as this is when people are doing fall cleanup projects.  The increased number of Buxton residents making use of this service should indicate the need to continue offering the public a safe means of disposing of their hazardous waste.  If we don’t offer a safe disposal method, the public will find less safe alternatives.

Another argument against having Hazardous Waste Day is that the $12,000 line item cost is too much money in these uncertain economic times.  Stating that Hazardous Waste Day will cost the Town $12,000 is misleading.  MERC reimburses Buxton for half of the costs of Hazardous Waste Day.  They do this in order to divert hazardous materials out of their waste stream.  This reimbursement money goes directly into the Town’s general fund, so the final cost to the town is capped at half the actual amount spent.  We spent $18,000 in 2008 and $13,428 in 2009 for Hazardous Waste Day, and received reimbursement checks of $9,000 and $6,714 which were returned to the Town’s general fund.

Without Hazardous Waste Day, Buxton would have to pay full price for all of the mercury containing products that the Transfer Station accepts throughout the year.  Disposing of this material during Hazardous Waste Day saves 50% of the disposal and transportation costs.  Our mercury related expenses during 2009’s Hazardous Waste Day included $1,746 for fluorescent bulbs, $200 for mercury containing batteries, and $310 for miscellaneous mercury products, for a total of $2,256 before transportation charges are added.  This expense will occur with or without Hazardous Waste Day.  Hazardous Waste Transportation is expensive.  I would expect the transportation costs to be approximately $500.  The initial expense of $12,000 is cut in half by the MERC reimbursement.  The remaining $6,000 includes approximately $2,750 of mercury related expenses that will occur even if we don’t have Hazardous Waste Day. The bottom line is that cutting this service will only save the Town around $3,250.  $3,250 shared by Buxton’s population of around 8,500 amounts to a cost of 38 cents per resident per year.  Less than a penny per person per week seems like a small price to pay for the value of this service.

Besides the mercury containing products, Buxton’s 2009 Hazardous Waste Day included the disposal of $1,206 worth of pesticides, $800 of solvents, $268 of acids, $1,510 of PCB’s, and $1,092 of asbestos.  Removing these materials from our community’s environment is well worth the cost of Hazardous Waste Day.  The cost associated with cleaning up an illegal dumping of some of these materials makes Hazardous Waste Day a smart financial investment even without considering the environmental benefits.

One last argument against Hazardous Waste Day is that a lot of the waste is from out of town.  Although I can’t guarantee that all of the waste was generated in Buxton, I do check everyone’s ID to make sure everyone is a Buxton resident.  It is possible that at least some of the hazardous waste is from out of town friends or relatives of Buxton residents.  Any service the Town offers is susceptible to abuse, but if there is any waste coming from out of town, the amount is probably minimal.

Part of the Solid Waste Department’s mission statement is “… to protect the health, safety, and general well being of the citizens of Buxton. …to enhance and maintain the quality of the environment, conserve natural resources, promote recycling, and prevent land, water, and air pollution.”  In my capacity as Buxton’s Solid Waste Manager, I strongly recommend that we offer the citizens of Buxton a safe means of disposing of hazardous materials by continuing to have a yearly Hazardous Waste Day.  

I have not yet scheduled a date for Buxton’s 2013 Hazardous Waste Day.  I feel it would be a mistake to cancel this community service, and to do so could place the health and well being of Buxton’s citizens and environment at risk.  The decision on whether or not to have Hazardous Waste Day will be made at the annual Town meeting in June. If you think this service is valuable to our community, please show up to voice your support and vote to fund Hazardous Waste Day.


Sincerely,

Greg Heffernan
Buxton Solid Waste Manager


 
Town of Buxton
  185 Portland Road, Buxton, ME 04093 (207) 929-5191
Mon, Tues, Thur, Fri 8:30am to 4:30pm & Wed: 11:30am - 7:30pm