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Members of Clean Harbors unload hazardous waste from a vehicle on Saturday at the Transfer Station. The inaugural Household Hazardous Waste collection was nothing short of a success according to the nonprofit and county players who worked to pull off the free event that netted more than 7,000 pounds of hazardous waste.

Solid Waste Department will pursue county funding for next year's collection

Saturday’s inaugural Household Hazardous Waste collection was nothing short of a success according to the nonprofit and county players who worked to pull off the free event that netted more than 7,000 pounds of hazardous waste.

The collection event was the first of its kind in Teton County, Idaho. Supported through an Department of Energy grant administered by the nonprofit Friends of the Teton River. The one-day event cost between $45,000 and $50,000, and the grant supported $32,000. Teton County kicked in another $12,000 to support freight costs for the collection that was handled through the company Clean Harbor.

While numbers are still being compiled from Saturday’s event, Teton County Solid Waste Supervisor Saul Varela said Tuesday that the event was such a success he will be asking that Teton County Commissioners consider budgeting the event for next year.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” said Varela of the first collection event. “Teton Valley Community Recycling and Friends of the Teton River did great job collecting numbers and it will be interesting to see exactly what we collected on Saturday to understand what residents are storing – herbicides pesticides, stains - only so we can get better."

Varela said hazardous waste collections are important not only for the protection of ground water, but to safeguard the county from liabilities should residents dump illegal substances.

“An annual collection is very important,” Varela said. “Knowing what we went through with the landfill cap and getting the landfill cap up to code because of ground water contamination, it took $1.4 million to rehab that area.”

Zena Wolcott-MacCausland, Community Outreach Coordinator for FTR, was pleased with Saturday’s collection and credited Varela and his staff at the Teton County Transfer Station for working to ensure the event would serve the community.

“I was impressed with Saul and his staff and their want to provide this service for Teton County, “ said Wolcott-MacCausland.

Executive director for TVCR Iris Saxer echoed Wolcott-MacCausland.

“I thought there would be really long wait times for people bringing their hazardous waste,” Saxer said. “We even brought surveys to do to help pass the time and distract the people from the long wait, but the Transfer Station staff were so unbelievably efficient in unloading the cars and the Clean Harbors crew was equally efficient at sorting, dumping, labeling and boxing up the hazardous waste that there was virtually no wait time at all (less than five minutes.) I was so impressed These guys were a well oiled machine. The County Solid Waste staff did an amazing job pulling out all of the latex paint and other items that they could handle on site. It was hard to believe it was the first time they were doing this."

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