East Portland neighbors dump a ton of hazardous materials at local grade school

Why on earth would government officials allow such a thing? Read on, and discover a special program helps keep kids – and families – safe from toxic materials …

1 This school was a hazardous waste collection site. Read on, and learn why bringing hazardous chemicals to school – on special occasions – can be a GOOD thing …

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It may seem crazy to encourage people to bring their toxic household chemicals and leftover paint to a school ‚Äì but that’s exactly what they did on August 25.

On that afternoon, Theresa Fielch drove to Alice Ott Middle School, just of SE 122nd Ave. in Powellhurst-Gilbert, with her car loaded with nasty stuff. “It is important to me that we don’t have this toxic waste around our house! And, I sure don’t want to dispose of it by dumping it where it shouldn’t go.”

No, Fielch wasn’t putting kids in danger by taking her toxic materials to a grade school. She was participating in a “Hazardous Waste Round-up” held by METRO.

Debbie Humphrey, Hazardous Waste Specialist with METRO, helps Teresa Fielsch a neighbor from Parkrose unload unused paint and other household chemicals, with the help of METRO worker Margaret Slate.

Nasty gunk round-up
Folks who came by the school were directed to drive into a tented area, the ground under which was completely covered with thick plastic.

“We’re collecting household hazardous waste from people in outer East Portland today,” explained Debbie Humphrey, Hazardous Waste Specialist with METRO.

“This is important because it reduces the stockpiles of products and chemicals, leftover paint, and other hazardous materials from people’s houses. It makes homes safer for both people and pets.”

Sometimes–Humphrey told us–people don’t know what to do with wastes that could hurt them. “We’re providing a simple, free method to dispose of them. Dumping them in the backyard or putting it in the trash is the worst thing anyone could do for the environment.”

There is no charge to homeowners for this service, Humphrey explained. Small businesses can also participate, she said, for a small fee.

Painting the town
“We do great things with the latex paint we collect. At our facility on Swan Island, we recycle used paint into good quality, inexpensive paint,” Humphrey told us. “The money we make from selling paint helps us fund programs like these.”

METRO worker Laura Brokaw is suited up to handle highly hazardous and toxic chemicals and wastes dropped off at the round-up events.

Last chance for East County
If you missed this event, it isn’t too late to rid your home or small business of hazardous materials. Check into one of these two remaining events:

Parkrose
Oct. 6 – 7
K-Mart store parking lot
at 12350 NE Sandy Blvd.

Rockwood/Gresham
Oct. 27 – 28
Rockwood United Methodist Church at
17805 SE Stark St.

For more information, call Metro Recycling Information at (503) 234-3000 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; or see www.metro-region.org .

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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