By Mark Scheer
Niagara Gazette — A household hazardous waste drop-off event scheduled for this weekend in Niagara Falls is booked solid, meaning residents looking to discard old latex-based paint cans, fluorescent bulbs and other items will have to make other plans.
Dawn Timm, environmental coordinator for the county's Department of Public Works, confirmed Thursday that appointments have been made for all 275 drop-off times available for the event scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the city's DPW yard off New Road. She said it may be possible near the end of the event to accept drive-up participants, however, there are no guarantees and the number allowed will depend on how many scheduled arrivals either cancel or do not show up.
"At this point, all of the appointment time slots have been filled," Timm said.
A similar follow-up event is set for Aug. 16 in Lockport, but Timm said appointments for that date are also filling up fast, with just 25 available time slots remaining.
Timm said regulations concerning the handling of hazardous waste as well as the logistics involved in actually collecting items on collection days requires her department to place a limit on the number of scheduled participants.
She said she recognizes the community need for disposal opportunities, but said her office can only hold as many as its budget allows, which is generally three per year, one in each of the county's cities.
Timm said as word as spread about the drop-off events so has participation. Last year, for example, she said a similar event in Niagara Falls drew 140 people, far less than the available number of time slots.
The county set aside $70,000 in this year's budget for the hazardous waste drop-off program, with each event costing between $18,000 to $25,000, according to Timm. The program is eligible for 50-percent reimbursement as part of an application process through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The events are open to residents living in communities within the county's refuse disposal district. Residents living outside the district in the towns of Niagara, Wilson, Cambria and Newfane are charged a $19 fee for participation.
Timm said her department may have enough funding following the Lockport event to schedule one additional drop-off before the end of 2014, but she is not certain enough leftover funds will be available to cover the cost.
In the meantime, she recommends residents visit the county's garbage and recycling information website at www.rethinkyourwaste.com to apply for an appointment for the Lockport event and learn more about recommendations for handling household hazardous waste. Residents who do not have computer access can call the environmental coordinator's office at 716-439-7242 for more information.
CLEANING HOUSE Do you have old cans of latex-based paint in your house or garage? Latex paint can be tossed out with the regular garbage but must be dried first. Experts recommend homeowners add equal parts kitty litter, sand or a commercial paint hardener to latex paint in a can, stir until the mixture has an oatmeal-like consistency and allow it to sit for one hour or more until dry. Cans containing dried paint can be deposited with household garbage for pickup at the curb. Commercial waste handlers are not allowed to collect latex-based paint or any other product in its liquid form. Oil-based paint is considered hazardous and must be disposed of at a designated hazardous waste collection site. For more information, visit www.rethinkyourwaste.com.
Contact reporter Mark Scheer at 282-2311, ext. 2250.