January 2006

Milestone reached in hurricane hazardous waste collected

In mid-December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that an estimated one million containers of household hazardous waste have been recovered from areas damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

This milestone is significant given that the hazardous waste collected from homes in these areas has been properly disposed of, preventing future environmental problems.

"It's important that we properly discard hazardous waste to protect the public's health and eliminate problems that could occur if this type of waste ended up in municipal landfills," said Steve Way, an EPA emergency responder who is helping to oversee hurricane response activities from the unified federal and state command post in Metairie, Louisiana. "Our collection operations have been successful because many residents are cooperating by separating household chemical products from their ordinary trash, helping the operation run more smoothly."

Household hazardous waste includes products like bleach, propane, batteries, paints and containers of other household chemicals. EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality have worked with local agencies and parishes to establish household hazardous waste collection centers and curbside pick-ups for residents in Orleans, St. Tammany, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Vermillion, Cameron, and Jefferson parishes. After pick-up and delivery to the various collection centers, the products are segregated for either recycling or other types of proper disposal.

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