Archived Story

David Mann: Cleaning up our community, part 2

Published 10:55am Thursday, April 11, 2013

By David Mann, Niles City Council

Regular garbage disposal isn’t the only worry our community has. Perhaps more troublesome is how to deal with toxic waste.
Sometimes we don’t realize that some waste that seems relatively harmless can have devastating effects on the environment when improperly disposed of.
Batteries, many electronics, automotive oil, chemicals and medicine need to be discarded in a different manner than common junk.
Berrien County has a hazardous waste collection service that is free for all Berrien County residents. There are several dates each year when you can drop off hazardous materials during 2013:
• May 18: SE County Landfill, Buchanan.
• June 22: River Valley Senior Center, Chikaming.
• July 20: Watervliet High School.
• Aug. 21: Fair Grounds, Berrien Springs.
• Sept. 14: County Environmental Office, Benton Harbor.
• Sept. 28: New Buffalo Fire Dept.
• Oct. 19: SE County Landfill, Buchanan.
Also, the Kalamazoo County Household Hazardous Waste Center is open year round and is free for Berrien County residents to use. If you are keeping small amounts of items for a disposal day, store them in a dry place inside that is not exposed to extreme temperatures.
Automotive products, fuels, pesticides/herbicides, aerosols, cleaners, acids and bases, propane cylinders, photography chemicals, mercury, household batteries, swimming pool chemicals, beauty products, fluorescent lights, adhesives and medical waste are all categories that are accepted at the disposal sites. Some of the specific wastes they mention include cooking oil, caulk, hair spray, cologne, nail polish, thermometers, soaps and polishes. For the complete list, go to berriencounty.org/recycle and click on the “Household Hazardous Waste Collections.”
Pouring waste into drains or depositing them into the trash can be dangerous because the facilities that process them are not necessarily set-up to handle toxic waste.
In addition, the city code stipulates in section 90 that: “No person shall discharge or cause to be discharged into the storm water drainage system or water body any materials including, but not limited to, pollutants or waters containing any pollutants that cause or contribute to a violation of applicable water quality standards, other than authorized discharges. The commencement, conduct or continuance of any illicit discharge to the storm water drainage system is prohibited, except for discharges specified in writing by the authorized enforcement agency as being necessary to protect public health, welfare, and safety.” When you pour items into storm drains, they go directly back into the waterways making it especially important not to pour anything except uncontaminated water into these drains.
Above all, it is important to use common sense when disposing of anything. If you have any doubt, it is better to call an expert. By working together, we can build this community.

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