‘Waste day’ tops last year

Maybe it was the location, or perhaps it was residents’ heightened awareness, but the second-annual “Household Hazardous Waste Day” held here back in May saw almost twice as much participation as last year’s inaugural effort.
But despite seeing more than 5,000 litres/kg of solid and liquid materials—ranging from car batteries to a jar of mercury—turned in, Martin Nantel, co-ordinator of the Rainy River First Nations Watershed Program, said the event must continue to grow.
“For being its second year, we’re pleased with the response,” he noted after recently receiving the final report from Winnipeg-based Safety-Kleen, which was here to collect the waste that day.
“However, keep in mind, it takes a couple years before the idea gets into people’s consciousness,” he remarked.
“Even though it was highly-publicized, especially in the newspaper, it takes a while before people start thinking, ‘Oh yeah, there’s the waste day in the spring,’ and remember to save their hazardous waste and not throw it in the landfill,” added Nantel.
While 52 households participated in last year’s event, which was held in Emo, this year saw 99 show up here.
Fort Frances accounted for 87 of the households that dropped off waste while four Devlin households also participated. The remaining eight were either from miscellaneous district municipalities or not identified.
The breakdown last year was Fort Frances (30), Emo (nine), Chapple (three), and others (10).
Nantel, who personally helped out at the waste day, said he learned a lot from the experience. “Without exception, all the people had comments that this is an event we need and would like to see it on a permanent basis.”
He also noted at least 50 percent of the people dropping off waste at this year’s waste day were seniors.
“This is great, but there is clearly a large segment of the population we still can reach here,” Nantel remarked.
Nantel said he’ll try to ensure the waste day continues, and has requested to be on the agenda at the Sept. 18 meeting of the Rainy River District Municipal Association to discuss ways in which it could occur annually and be sustainable.
“Is it a matter of changing location, holding events simultaneously, or having a moving caravan? There are options,” he noted. “Some communities have permanent waste depots—maybe there should be one in Fort Frances?
“The district was recently named a ‘safe community.’ Maybe this should really be part of that initiative,” Nantel added.
Among the wastes disposed here in May included 40 litres of acids, 20 litres of bases, 600 litres of organic liquids, 20 litres of inorganic oxidizer, 100 litres of liquid pesticides, 40 kg of aerosols, 150 litres of flammable liquids, 1,600 litres of alkyd/latex paints, 1,025 of petroleum oil, 10 kg of propane, and 1,500 of lead acid batteries.
Commercial/industrial, PCB, radioactive, explosive, asbestos, and unknown chemical wastes were not accepted.
Waste petroleum oil was removed from containers and bulked into 205-litre metal drums. Gasoline also was bulked because some households requested the return of their storage containers.
In order to confine any spillage, all bulking occurred in a bermed area comprised of a layer of poly and spill cloth.
Paint containers were placed into boxes with a 400-litre capacity. Other waste chemicals and pesticides were segregated by chemical compatibility and packed into 205-litre drum lab packs.
These all were transported from here to Safety-Kleen’s transfer facility in Winnipeg.
From there, the waste was transported to licensed facilities for processing and disposal. Waste paint, petroleum oil, compressed propane cylinders, and lead acid batteries were transported to recycling facilities.
While organized by the Rainy River First Nations Watershed Program, the event was a group effort sponsored by the Rainy River First Nations, the municipalities of Fort Frances, Emo, and Morley, Environment Canada, the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition, and the Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists.