Nine community recycling events will be held in Buffalo for collecting fluorescent light bulbs, electronic waste and household hazardous waste under the terms of an agreement struck between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the city.
“Many products found in the home can be harmful to the environment and human health if not disposed of correctly,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Household hazardous waste, such as petroleum products, paint solvents/thinners and pesticides can be dangerous and should be disposed of properly. Likewise, fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury and should be recycled whenever possible.”
The agreement, which also includes the city remitting a $21,094 penalty and spending at least $79,000 on the recycling events, settles violations the city committed relative to federal regulations governing its own hazardous waste.
In 2008, the EPA found violations of hazardous waste rules following inspections of the City of Buffalo’s Department of Public Works, Parks and Streets and other offices at City Hall. Three years later, EPA regulators also inspected five sites owned and operated by the city and found more violations, including several hundred containers containing waste paints, paint thinners, solvents and related wastes in corroded or leaking containers that were not properly labeled or stored.
Officials said they also found “several hundred spent fluorescent bulbs stored in the Mechanical Services Building and in City Hall, and discovered dozens of discarded cathode ray tubes haphazardly stored in multiple locations owned by the City of Buffalo” during the inspections.
Under the terms of Thursday’s settlement the city agreed to improve its “handling of hazardous waste to ensure that it complies with environmental laws and implement a program to recycle or properly dispose of fluorescent bulbs, e-waste, and household hazardous waste collected at waste collection events,” the EPA reported.
Household hazardous wastes that Buffalo will collect include household pesticides, chemicals, paints and thinners, gasoline and antifreeze products and mercury-based thermometers.