Jeff Green | Oct 20, 2005
Feature Article - October 20, 2005
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Feature ArticleOctober 20, 2005
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Hazardous waste in our dumps
by Jeff Green
There seems to be no viable solution to the problem of toxic waste in rural dump sites. At a joint meeting of North Frontenac and Addington Highlands Councils last week, Mayor Ken Hook from Addington Highlands brought information about a potential one-day hazardous waste disposal service that could be shared by the townships. But the cost is prohibitive and the results questionable.
“The company I contacted charges $1,300 to set up a one day site, and then charges by weight for the waste. It comes to about $50 per carload,” he said.
Ken Hook went on to say that one-day hazardous waste collection events are considered highly successful if there is a participation rate of 5%. For North Frontenac/Addington Highlands that would mean about 360 carloads of hazardous waste would be disposed of, at a cost in the range of $18,000 over and above the $1,300 up front cost.
In the end, even if the program is a success it would cost the two townships $20,000 and would still leave about 95% of the hazardous waste in the townships unaccounted for.
In South Frontenac, efforts have been underway to convince the township to set up twice annual hazardous waste days, but there has been resistance. Hazardous waste days have been expensive and not very successful in the past.
Residents of Frontenac County have the option of purchasing a pass from their township office for $32.10; they can then bring their hazardous waste to a site in Kingston for disposal every Thursday and every second Saturday between April and November. This option is rarely exercised by the rural population. Staff at the township office of Central Frontenac report that only three passes for hazardous waste were purchased from them in 2004. The service is free for residents of the City of Kingston.
According to Bob Argue, an environmental consultant in Perth, who has worked for townships in Frontenac County doing audits of garbage at dump sites, it is estimated that in Ontario about 6 kilograms of hazardous waste is illegally dumped at waste sites annually for each resident. This figure is for residents who live in jurisdictions with relatively convenient options for hazardous waste, such as city dwellers.
“The situation is worse in rural areas, where there is no convenient way to deal with hazardous waste,” Argue said.
Household Hazardous Waste includes a variety of items, including paint and corrosive household products, oil filters, pesticides, roofing tar, solvents, dry cell and car batteries, oil, and other materials.
While there is no current solution to the problem of household hazardous waste, according to Bob Argue it will take a long term approach involving manufacturers and retailers in order to stem this dangerous waste flow into public dumping grounds.
“For the public it is a matter of reducing the amount of hazardous materials that are used; using up as much of the material as possible so it doesn’t have to be disposed of; and working towards reclaiming as much of the material as possible; and dumping as little as possible in secure hazardous waste landfill sites,” Bob Argue said. “The problem of household hazardous waste is a long term problem. It will not be solved tomorrow.”
In the interim, hazardous waste will continue to collect in basements and sheds, and at our dumpsites.