El Centro takes lead in erecting hazardous waste disposal facility

August 03, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

In only a few months, residents of the county will be able to rid themselves of household hazardous waste by taking it to a new collection center in El Centro.

The El Centro City Council this week voted to be the lead agency for the Imperial Valley Integrated Waste Management Board for dealings with the material.

Steve Hogan, El Centro public works director, said a $117,000 grant was used to build the facility at the same location as the city's material recovery facility. The grant also covers the first year of operation. He said the facility at 3353 Dogwood Road, when open, will operate four hours a week year-round.

Some of the materials that will be accepted include oil and latex paint, gasoline, used oil, batteries, aerosol cans, pesticides and antifreeze.


State law requires all cities to implement a source reduction and recycling element and a household hazardous waste element as part of a reduced waste stream program. The county and the Valley's cities are part of the IVWMB.

To offset some of the anticipated expense, Hogan said materials will be recycled to offset the cost of the facility.

"It's very, very expensive to operate these things," he said.

Hogan said the facility is needed to minimize household hazardous waste dumped in public.

If the material is in sufficient quantity to require immediate response in the county area, the county has the Hazardous Emergency Assistance Team to respond.

Assistant County Fire Chief Fred Nippins heads the team.

He said most of the emergency calls are from agriculture and the railroad, with none from households.

Nick del Valle, county hazardous waste specialist, said when household hazardous waste is found in public, he tries to find the property owner so the property owner can clean up the material.

"The key is to find the responsible party," del Valle said.

As the county is not a so-called state certified uniform programming agency, it cannot handle hazardous waste, and when sufficient hazardous material is found in public, the county calls the state Environmental Protection Agency or the state Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Meanwhile, Hogan said it is still undecided if residents will be charged to drop off hazardous waste. He said a fee has to be looked at in view of the possibility that people will dump the material in public places.

Hogan said the facility should be open within 90 to 120 days, after a permitting process that involves the city, the county and the state. He said the facility must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, which means having an environmental study completed and approved.

Finally, Hogan said residents using the facility will have to identify themselves as county residents and that it is unknown if the facility will accept tires; if it does there likely will be a fee.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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