Well-intentioned law may create problems
Nevada County residents are faced with a new, well-intentioned law that is designed to protect the environment, but could create new problems even as it addresses old ones.
The McCourtney Road Transfer Station implemented a new waste-screening program to stop the dumping of hazardous materials in ordinary landfills.
The concern is that some particularly dangerous stuff will leach into groundwater supplies. So those bringing their trash to the transfer station will be subject to random screenings to separate the acceptable trash from the unacceptable trash.
Under the new rules, garbage that constitutes a no-no includes motor oil, paint, paint solvents, aerosol paint cans, antifreeze, freon-based appliances, car batteries, oil filters and tires. Fortunately, the county does have a recycling facility at the transfer station to handle these items.
More troublesome are other types of trash not accepted by the recycling facility. These include common items such as household cleaning products, chlorine bleach, solvents and even household batteries. There are also more obvious candidates that cannot be accepted at the recycling facility: PCB materials, acids, pesticides and herbicides, film-processing waste, gas, paint strippers, contaminated motor oil, poisons, asbestos and pool chemicals.
So what do law-abiding citizens do?
Well, of course, they’re not completely out of luck. If they’re conscientious about it, they can wait for a household hazardous waste collection drop-off event the county provides periodically.
Unfortunately, there is also the problem of the less law-abiding citizens. Can’t throw a used battery in the garbage? They can always throw it out the car window after they drive out of sight of the transfer station. Or they can just throw it in the trash can outside some business. Ditto for those solvents, bleaches, and the like.
In fairness to the county, the new rules are said to come from federal and state laws. Furthermore, a county official said there are plans for a permanent household hazardous waste drop-off facility and more drop-off events throughout the year.
In the meantime, we worry about the illegal dumping that could result from the new law. After all, the old laws have not thwarted the illegal dumping that’s occurred for years in our county.
It would behoove the county to make the legal dumping of these dangerous materials as easy as possible.
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