Health Department to Hold Hazardous Waste Collection Event

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It’s time to get those old jugs of pesticides, antifreeze, motor oil and other hazardous materials out of the garage.

Missoula County’s 24th annual Haz Waste Days, a household hazardous waste collection event, is being held Friday and Saturday at the city shops on the corner of Scott and Turner streets.

For no charge, anyone can drop off used motor oil and antifreeze (up to 15 gallons in non-return containers), paint thinners, oil-based paints and stains, mercury thermometers, up to six fluorescent tubes (no compact bulbs) and rechargeable batteries.

For a small fee, you can drop off pesticides, strong acids, chlorinated solvents and caustics.

The Missoula City-County Public Health Department last year collected more than 2,000 gallons of waste oil, 700 gallons of antifreeze, 4,000 pounds of pesticides and poisons and 2,100 gallons of flammable liquids. More than 1,000 people participated and organizers also received a good amount of aerosol cans, fluorescent light tubes and 30 pounds of mercury.

“We are expecting a good turnout this year,” said Peter Nielsen of the health department’s water quality district. “There’s no Griz game in town.

"Some years the turnout is a little higher than others. The real estate market is strong, and a lot of this stuff is generated by people needing to clean a house out. Or someone passes away and they find all this stuff.”

Nielsen said that unfortunately, a lot of people decide they don’t want to store the hazardous waste and end up putting it in dumpsters or down the drain, where it eventually winds up in the river or the aquifer.

“Once we had a guy with a couple drums of DDT (a banned pesticide),” he said. “The guy had squirreled it away for all these years and it was just sitting in a shed ready to burn.”

Earlier this spring, the Missoula City Council authorized the mayor to sign an interlocal cooperation agreement with the county to build a permanent hazardous waste collection facility near the wastewater treatment plant on North Reserve.

Nielsen said he is hoping the facility, which got a boost in the form of a $125,000 donation from Phillips 66 and $50,000 from Republic Services, is built by next spring. It would mean that people don’t have to store dangerous materials in their shed or garage until a once-a-year event.

“We want them to get it out of Dumpsters and sheds because it is a hazard to people, their kids and their pets,” Nielsen said.

The county has to charge for pesticides and certain other materials because it costs a lot to dispose of it properly. They also can’t accept latex paint, but Nielsen said nearly empty cans can be dried with cat litter and thrown away and full cans can be donated to Home Resource if they are good.

Volunteers from Phillips 66, Cenex, the Missoula Fire Department, Republic Services and Morrison-Maierle are helping out Friday and Saturday with the collection.

There are year-round options for several other items, Neilson said. Car batteries can be recycled by Republic Services, and fluorescent bulbs can be taken by Ace, Home Depot and Lowes for free. Republic Services also picks up used motor oil, as do many auto shops.

The Haz Waste Days collectors cannot accept electronic waste, which can be taken to Opportunity Resources E-Cycling facility at 6900 Kestrel Drive No. 14 near the airport.

This article originally appeared on missoulian.com

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