Time to unload hazardous waste

Posted Monday, May. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
More information HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE COLLECTION DAY When: 9 a.m. to noon (depending on space availability) on Saturday, May 18 Acceptable items: acids, aerosol cans, all batteries, antifreeze, break fluid, craft and hobby materials, degreasers, drain cleaners, fertilizer, fluorescent lights, herbicides, household chemicals, motor oil, oil filters, paints (up to 10 cans per household), stains, paint thinners, pest strips, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, photo chemicals, pool chemicals, solvents, transmission fluid and varnishes. Unacceptable items: ammunition, explosives, medical waste, propane and butane cylinders, radioactive material (such as found in smoke detectors), tires and waste generated by businesses. Computer and electronics recycling: Goodwill Industry workers will be on hand to accept old computers and peripherals (keyboards, cables, monitors, etc.), video game equipment and software, printers and cell phones. Cooking oil: call Arianne Shipley at (817) 447-2248 to schedule a drop-off Monday through Friday. Required proof of residency: a driver’s license or Mansfield city utility bill. Next collection events in Mansfield: June 15 and Oct. 19

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The city’s next Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day is Saturday, May 18, a day when the city opens its arms to the old paint cans, motor oil, car batteries and most everything else residents have stored in their garages for just such an occasion.

Even unidentified chemicals dropped off in creepy, unmarked containers are accepted.

Steve Gutierrez, a hazardous materials technician with the fire department, had such an encounter at a collection event last year.

“We didn’t know what it was,” he said, “but it ate through our metal container.”

That's better than having it wind up in a storm sewer, a creek or a landfill, which gets to the purpose of the event – giving people a ready alternative to dumping or flushing waste that can spoil water supplies and worse.

“Some of these things when they mix together become explosive,” said city storm water manager Howard Redfearn, who co-manages the program alongside the Keep Mansfield Beautiful Commission. The city, he said, “has to provide people a safe, responsible way to get rid of that stuff.”

Collections will be taken in the City Hall east parking lot at 1200 E. Broad St., starting at 9 a.m. and ending about noon – or when the two trailers fill up. Proof of residency, such as a driver’s license or utility bill, is required for drop-offs, and don’t confuse “hazardous” with “unwanted.”

Lawn chemicals, paints and motor oils are among the acceptable items, and medical waste, tires and propane cylinders are among the unacceptable. The city has more information on its website, www.mansfield-tx.gov.

The city has been hosting the collection events since 2003, annually until 2008, when it started holding them twice a year. The upcoming one is the first of three this year.

Redfearn said the Mansfield collection events have had large turnouts that have increased for every event.

At last year’s two collection dates – the city of Fort Worth’s environmental services conducts one annually in Mansfield – about 300 households contributed a total of 20,960 pounds of materials. Another 275 Mansfield residents took their disposables directly to the Fort Worth Environmental Collection Center, 6400 Bridge St., a privilege provided for in an agreement between the two cities.

Redfearn said there generally are few surprises for the Mansfield site crews, which he attributes to having a well-informed public that abide by the detailed list of acceptable and unacceptable items posted on the city’s website.

“Probably the most interesting thing we get are the old mercury thermostats,” Redfearn said. “We get a lot of unknowns, something that has been sitting in their garage in a jar and they don't know what it is.”

Fire Chief Barry Bondurant recalled a drop-off of old munitions years ago.

“We ended up calling the ATF out there to assist us,” he said.

Gutierrez has seen discarded fire extinguishers so old that they contain chemicals now banned.

He said people should come early, because more often than not, the trailer fills before noon – at times as early as 10:30 or 11 a.m.

“We’ve actually turned people away in the past, because we have a limited amount of space,” Gutierrez said. “Sometimes they've got real upset about that. And the next thing we know, they've left and we've noticed that there's a trash can nearby and they have loaded their stuff off into the trash can.”

Because of those rare cases, which can threaten the environment, the collection team has at times bent the rules a little and taken on a bit more than they should, or items on the unacceptable list, Gutierrez said.

“It’s in the best interest of the environment,” he said, “because if we don’t take it there’s a potential it will end up in a creek or in the landfill.”

Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641

Twitter: @Kaddmann

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