Drop hazardous waste at county transfer stations beginning April 30

Islanders danced and whirled their way through sunny Eastsound in last week’s Earth Day parade, celebrating life and the potency of fertile soil as spring settles herself in the San Juans.

County hazardous waste coordinator Helen Venada invites the community to show their love for the earth in yet another way:

“You can celebrate Earth Week by participating in this weekend’s hazardous waste collections at your county solid waste facility,” she says.

Collections will be held on each island: on Orcas, Saturday, April 30, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; on Lopez, Sunday, May 1, from noon to 3 p.m.; and on San Juan, Saturday, May 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A $12 fee will apply for waste up to 200 pounds (25 gallons), and an additional $.06 per pound for anything over that.

Post-1979 latex paints are lead-free and can be mixed with sawdust or cat litter until solid, then put in the regular trash. If latex paints are brought in, $2 per gallon will be charged.

Businesses must pre-register and will be invoiced for disposal costs.

“We hope you will take advantage of this convenient opportunity,” said Venada. “Please take time now to inspect all areas in and around your homes and businesses to inventory your unwanted chemical products.”

Reusable items can be separated out for a re-use exchange table. Volunteers to help out at the reuse tables would be welcome; call Venada to sign up.

Annual roundups are funded by grants. Between 1989 and 2010, the county has disposed of 342 tons of toxic, flammable, corrosive, and reactive chemical waste from island households and businesses.

The waste cannot be legally transported on passenger ferries and is normally disposed of by Clean Harbors Environmental Services. The waste is shipped to Aragonite, Utah and El Dorado, Arkansas for incineration and/or energy recovery. In 2010 over 44 thousand pounds (22.4 tons) of hazardous waste were collected in San Juan County.

To register or more information, call Venada at 370-0503, email helenv@sjcpublicworks.org or visit http://goo.gl/uoUvV.

County Pollution Prevention Specialist Brian Rader is also available for consultations. Rader is not a regulator, but serves only to inform and help people find better ways to dispose of their waste. He can also help find ways of generating lower amounts of waste, and encourages people to contact him at brianr@sanjuanco.com or 370-7581.