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Locals rid homes of hazardous waste

Roundup hosted by Los Angeles County at COC to collect household items

Posted: April 5, 2009 1:11 a.m.
Updated: April 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Santa Clarita Valley residents seized the chance Saturday to drop off loads of old paint, batteries, computers and other materials at College of the Canyons to clean out their homes and to help save the environment.

Residents attending Los Angeles County's household hazardous and electronic waste roundup at the Valencia campus passed through drop-off lines as they discarded their unwanted materials for proper disposal and recycling.

Valencia resident Linda Eurton, 68, did not even have to get out of her car as workers took her bags of old cell phones, cables, television and stereo remote controls and other electronics and sorted them into bins.

"I've collected all this stuff because I don't know what to do with it," said Eurton, who added she has been too busy to dispose of it through the city's waste management program. "I'm so happy that they're doing this because (now) I can clean out my garage."

Newhall resident Peter Garon, 49, said he was pleased with how easy it was to drop off his old fluorescent tubes, a stereo and a computer monitor.

"(It's) just a matter of a couple minutes," Garon said. "This is far more convenient because otherwise we would have to go into the San Fernando Valley or the Antelope Valley. Having events like these are just crucial to this area."

The annual event, which is limited to Santa Clarita Valley residents, usually brings about 3,000 cars through the lines, said Eric Brown, household hazardous waste program manager for CleanHarbors Environmental Services.

The company is contracted by the county to manage waste disposal for the roundups.

"The thing about Santa Clarita is we get great participation out here," Brown said, who added paint and electronics are the most common products brought in.

"We'll probably end up with about three trailers of paint ... so you're looking at about 100,000 pounds of paint from this event, which is a lot."

Brown added they usually collect about 150 55-gallon containers of flammable liquids, including paint thinners, alcohol and gasoline, through these events. He estimated the Santa Clarita roundup would also bring in about 100,000 pounds of electronic waste, as it did last year.

One type of household hazardous waste residents often overlook is cleaning products, according to Brown.

"A lot of these chemicals are the same chemicals you use out in the industry," he said.

He added consumers often make the mistake of believing lower concentrations of chemicals mean they are not harmful to households or to the environment.

Correctly disposing of environmentally harmful materials is "the right thing to do," Garon said, after checking in his items.

"Previously, nobody stopped to think about throwing away a fluorescent tube or a compact fluorescent bulb," he said. "Until recently, people didn't know there was mercury in it ... That and all the other toxic substances that are in (electronic waste) can get properly recycled."

Residents will have another chance to recycle April 25 by attending the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station's "Safe and Secure" event where participants can turn in electronic waste and expired medications.

The event will also accept up to five boxes of personal paper documents for shredding. Credit cards, computer disks and empty binders will also be accepted.

"Safe and Secure" will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at College of the Canyons.

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