Residents stopping at the old public works shop Friday to drop off paint cans and car batteries said the annual hazardous waste collection event is a good thing.
Anthony Wilson said he brings items each year. Properly disposing of such wastes in Haines is a challenge, he said. Because many hazardous materials aren’t accepted at the dump, residents would have to take them out of town for disposal, he said.
“But you’re not supposed to bring them on the ferry or across the border. And you can’t bring them on a plane. So a lot of people would just dump them outside, which is bad,” Wilson said.
Resident Dave Kyle thinks the drive is a good use of the borough’s money. “They’re doing what we pay taxes for. This is a good thing.” It prevents hazardous waste from escaping into the environment, he said. “What they’re doing is excellent,” he added, gesturing toward the four workers who were prying open cans and pouring various chemicals into the appropriate drums.
The Haines Borough has budgeted $18,500 for the cleanup. The firm Carson Dorn of Juneau collects the materials, and the Chilkoot Indian Association provides workers trained in hazardous waste disposal.
Della Brouillette of CIA said the tribe also takes advantage of the event. “We have a lot of paint from housing repairs that we bring here.”
“This is a good program because this is a lead-based paint and lead-poisoning is fatal,” Brouillette said, reading the label on one can.
She pointed to dozens of rusty paint cans left by one man. “He pulled up here and said, ‘I’ve got some paint from grandma’s house.’” Most of them were full, she said. Steven Haavig of Carson Dorn said most of the waste was paints and adhesives. Aerosol cans and auto batteries were also common.
A sealed envelope labeled “fox urine” was among the items dropped off Friday. Haavig said the event doesn’t accept biological wastes, so he threw the urine in the trash.
Collected waste is shipped to Seattle. Oil-based liquids are blended for fuel, latex paint is solidified before going in the landfill, acids and bases are neutralized, bad gas gets made for fuel, and pesticides get incinerated, Haavig explained.
Borough public works employee Ralph Borders has worked on waste collection day for about 20 years. “It’s a long day. You’re opening a million paint cans and you’re guaranteed to end up with a headache. I’d rather be out shoveling snow. Worst day of the year!”