Column: Collecting household hazardous waste to start

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 9, 2008

By Randy Tuchtenhagen, Solid Waste Officer

It&8217;s time to start thinking about household hazardous waste again.

The 2008 season has been planned and advertised. We will visit incorporated as well as a couple of unincorporated areas of the county in order to bring service to everyone.

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We will have collections on Saturday mornings, over the noon hour, in the early afternoon and some in the evenings. Residents are encouraged to attend the collections that best fit their schedule, location and preference. We only ask that you fill out the required paperwork to show that you are a county resident.

The season will start the last week in April and end in September. We have planned a collection for nearly every week of the summer so there will be ample opportunity to attend one or more if needed. There is no collection the week of the fair.

Last year many people waited until the very last collection of the year (in Glenville) and we had a long, long line waiting to unload. We were also understaffed and totally unprepared to handle such a volume in that small community. We set a record for attendance in Glenville for the second year in a row at 81 vehicles. Unfortunately many of those people (many from Albert Lea) missed the collection just a few days earlier in Albert Lea where we had over 20 volunteers helping us and were prepared to handle a large crowd. By comparison, our largest Albert Lea collections in July and August had less than 70 vehicles.

Being prepared to handle any number of vehicles and the odd and not so ordinary waste items has been challenging. There is the customer who claims they only have a couple cans of paint, are in a hurry and want to unload before the posted starting time. The problem is that if the cans are leaking (this happens often) or we drop and spill them we have to stop setting up to deal with it. If we allow people to come early at collections it interferes with our ability to set up our safety equipment. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has approved our collection schedule as printed and our license does not allow operating outside of that time. It is illegal in Freeborn County to drop off and leave unattended any household hazardous waste materials at any collection site. You must bring your waste to an organized collection site where trained people will deal with it before it can spill or leak and an expensive cleanup is required.

The household hazardous waste collection schedule was printed in the Community News magazine as a cut-out and mailed to every household in Freeborn County in March. If you lost your copy, call our office and we&8217;ll find you another schedule. We have also placed copies in post offices, banks, city halls and other businesses throughout the county. There will also be ads in the newspapers during the season as reminders of upcoming collections. Please do not wait until the end of the summer to bring your waste items to us. We don&8217;t want to burn out our volunteers in those cities.

There are collections and disposal sites for special waste items. They include electronics, appliances, tires and other things you know are not supposed to be put in the garbage. Our household hazardous waste program collects chemicals and paint products and we do not have equipment or vehicles to handle other waste items that are occasionally brought to us. Call our office or ask for additional information at our collections and we&8217;ll assist you with your disposal needs.

We are in need to volunteers for all collection sites this year and if you receive a call to help us, please consider doing so. When you bring waste for disposal, please put a check mark with your telephone number on the registration form so we can add you to our &8220;call&8221; list to help us at the next collection. We appreciate your help.

Randy Tuchtenhagen is the

Freeborn County solid waste officer.