Missoula County accepting household hazardous waste during collection days

Travis Ross (right) and Emily Larson, of the Missoula Water Quality District, inspect some of the hazardous waste brought to the drop-off. (David Stalling/Missoula Current)

Residents from across Missoula on Friday disposed of hazardous and toxic materials from around the household with the Missoula Valley Water Quality District during its annual waste collection days.

The event continues on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1305 Scott St.

Most hazardous waste can be dropped off at no charge. To help cover the cost of shipping and disposing of waste, some items are accepted for a small fee, such as pesticides, caustics, strong acids and chlorinated solvents.

“We get about 1,200 to 1,300 cars delivering hazardous waste to these events every year,” said Travis Ross, the county’s environmental health supervisor. “We collect about 40-to-50 55-gallon barrels of flammable materials, such as gas, oil and paint thinner, and about 20-to-30 drums of pesticides.”

Ross said the county works with Clean Harbors, an environmental service company based in Washington that specialize in the “safe and legal” handling, transportation and disposal of hazardous and toxic wastes.

Depending on the type of material, Ross said some of it ends up in hazardous waste landfills, and some ends up in incinerators in order to “recover some of the energy while reducing impacts to the environment.”

“Ideally, it would be best if people worked to reduce the amount of hazardous and toxic wastes we use and produce by using less and using alternatives,” Ross said.

About 15 volunteers make the annual event possible, which includes city and county employees from the fire department, the wastewater treatment plant and stormwater utility, as well as volunteers from Home Resources, CHS Mountain West Co-op, Phillips 66 and various environmental consultants.

Republic Service provides dumpsters to handle toxic soils.

“It really takes a lot of people to make this happen,” Ross said. “It takes a lot of parts to set up this temporary site — to turn a truck barn into a collection facility — and make this work.”

Ross said the county and city are looking into setting up a permanent facility.

Follow this link for more information about hazardous waste collection.