Hazardous waste has a new place

Saturday, September 29, 2012
Spencer public works assistant Craig Poulsen, right, and Dennis Henrich are overseeing the operations of the Northern Plains Regional Collection Center, which opened Thursday. The hazardous material collection facility will be open 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on the first and third Saturday of each months. Appointments are available on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays by calling 580-7277. (Photo by Gabe Licht)

What do many automotive products, batteries, cleaning products, pesticides, fluorescent bulbs and solvents have in common?

They can all become household hazardous waste that should be handled with care.

A new option is now available for that handling: the Northern Plains Regional Collection Center, located at the transfer station in Spencer.

"This was established through a grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources," Spencer public works assistant Craig Poulsen said of the $134,000 grant that funded the majority of an approximate $150,000 cost. "It serves the whole planning area of the landfill."

Spencer is the only city in Clay County included in the planning area, but rural county residents may also use the facility for free. Other Clay County cities are served by a facility in Sheldon, which schedules mobile collection events in each city it serves, just as the local facility will be able to do elsewhere.

Residents of Emmett County, Terril, Superior, Bode and Whittemore are included in the Northern Plains Regional Landfill planning area and may use the Spencer facility. Palo Alto County residents are also included in the planning area and may use a satellite location in Emmetsburg. Pocahontas County is included in the planning area as well, but is currently served by another provider.

"This facility is free for residents in the planning area, except for those with latex paint," Poulsen said. "There is a $1 per pound charge for latex paint because people can dry latex paint on their own and put it in the landfill because it's not toxic. We encourage people to reuse it, donate it or dry it out themselves."

Any resident who is not sure where hazardous wastes should go can contact Dennis Henrich at the center by calling 580-7277 between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, as well as the first and third Saturday of each month. Henrich will take appointments on Tuesdays, Thursdays and the designated Saturdays.

"The reason we take appointments is if we have a lot of people coming, we want to stagger them," Henrich said. "Then, we'll also know what they're bringing."

Materials should be in their original containers, although oil and filters may be collected in other disposable containers.

"If they dump things into a container, it becomes an unknown and we have to treat it differently," Poulsen said.

In addition to residents, a business that generates less than 27 gallons or 220 pounds of waste annually may use the facility for a fee.

"When I get a commercial account, I go look at it and make sure they're a conditionally exempt small quantity generator," Henrich said.

A swap shop, where sealed items can be left for others to pick up and use, is also included in the facility.

Poulsen said such facilities have been established by the DNR to replace annual clean up events the entity used in the past. The facility has been in the making for a quite some time.

"We've been working on this deal for about two years now," Poulsen said. "A lot of work has gone into it.

"I hope everybody uses it to keep our water supplies clean and help our landfill," he continued.

"If anyone has any questions, they should call out here and we'll help them," Henrich added. "That's what we're here to do."

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