Safety-Kleen Helps a Community Clean Up for Earth Day

On Saturday, April 29th, 2000, Safety-Kleen Corporation, a member of the Holly Hill Community for many years, held a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day at their Holly Hill Recycle Center next to the Holnan Cement Plant on Hwy. 453 just off of Exit 177 on I-26.

The sun was shining, a breeze was blowing and, by all accounts, the program was a huge success. Homeowners coming from as far as 100 miles away brought in "everything but the kitchen sink", according to Jerry Wigfall, Jr., the Site Coordinator and Collection Day Supervisor for Safety-Kleen. Certainly they brought in everything that was under the sink. Disposal barrels soon filled with disinfectants and other antimicrobials, cleaners, paints and other coatings, paint thinners, hobby chemicals, polishes and waxes, insect sprays, and a variety of unwanted products in aerosol cans.

Held in conjunction with Charleston County Earth Day, Safety-Kleen provided this valuable community service to give private individuals a safe and legal way to dispose of any unwanted and unused household or farm chemicals or other hazardous wastes. This community service program was open to homeowners and farmers but not commercial businesses or industry. Anyone could bring in their unwanted materials, getting them out of their homes and farms, where, left in storage, they posed a potential danger of personal exposure, fire hazard, or contamination of structures, soil or water.

The one-day Safety-Kleen HHW Collection Day ran from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Residents of Orangeburg, Calhoun, and Dorchester Counties, and the Charleston County public schools were specifically provided with the opportunity to properly dispose of their household hazardous wastes, but the invitation was extended to residents of surrounding counties as well.

And the price was right! Proper disposal of household hazardous wastes is costly. Safety-Kleen not only provided the opportunity for proper disposal of these wastes, they provided it for free. Participants had only to answer a few survey questions, provide comments on the program, drop off their waste products, and enjoy the rest of a bright, sunny day!

To ensure everyone's ability to take advantage of this important opportunity, participants were asked to limit their disposal to 20 pounds per household, with individual containers limited to five (5) gallons. Larger amounts and containers could be pre-approved. Where practical, all wastes were to be in their original containers with original labels still attached and legible. If labels were not legible, handwritten labels that clearly identified the container contents could be used. Used oil and similar wastes were not likely to be in their original containers and were to be brought in any convenient closed container having a proper label. Participants were asked not to use glass or food containers for these, if possible, and not to allow children to handle these waste materials. Also, because of possible chemical reactions and the need to separate different kinds of materials for disposal, participants were told not to mix different materials together in the same container.

What did they bring?

In addition to household waste, garages gave up gasoline, kerosene, used motor oil, car polishes, tire cleaners, white-wall whiteners, greases and lubricants, out-dated fire extinguishers, batteries and tires, tires, tires. Basements and storage buildings were emptied of paints, paints, and more paints, cleaners, petroleum products of all kinds, batteries and adhesives.

Several Charleston County schools were able to dispose of paints and unused chemicals from science labs.

Farmers particularly benefited by being able to dispose of unused agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, crop oils, equipment lubricants and used motor oil. A number of the pesticides brought in for disposal by farmers had been held in storage for many years, waiting for an opportunity to dispose of these unused chemicals properly. One farmer brought in herbicides he had been storing for 35 years!

Among these pesticides were some which were no longer legal for some uses. Many of these were Restricted Use Pesticides. Some pesticides were particularly hazardous, including the insecticides ethyl parathion, methyl parathion, toxaphene, and Nemacur, and many older herbicides, such as Dinitro, with "Danger" labels.

Farmers were especially grateful for this opportunity to properly dispose of these unwanted pesticides because they have precious few opportunities to do this. They had held these pesticides in storage, knowing that illegal use or improper disposal could expose them and others to the pesticide, leave illegal residues on crops, or possibly contaminate surface and groundwaters. The cost of properly disposing of these pesticides would have been very high, especially for pesticide product containers that no longer had labels attached. Virtually every farmer participating repeatedly thanked the workers at the Collection Day for taking these pesticides off their hands for proper disposal. There were lots of smiles and handshakes, and then it was back to work on the farm.

What does a collection like this cost?

Actual dollar cost can vary, but consider that the Safety-Kleen Holly Hill Facility opened and operated their site on an off day, provided containers, including dozens of 55 gallon steel drums to secure the wastes in, brought in a truck for transport of the hazardous household wastes, and paid disposal fees for materials that could not be recycled or burned as fuels for things such as cement plant kilns. Furthermore, over 20 Safety-Kleen employees volunteered their day off to help make the day a success. And to top it all off, after drop-off, Safety-Kleen provided soft drinks and snacks for the participants!

What happens to unused wastes in homes and on farms if they cannot be brought in to a collection day like this?

At best, they sit in storage. Often they are poured into sewers, buried or dumped into landfills. Even those containers that are safely in storage waiting for an opportunity to be disposed of can, over time, corrode or rot and begin to leak, making moving them impossible. On farms, buildings age and become less suitable for secure storage of unused pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. The potential for exposure to people, animals and contaminating the environment increases with each passing day. And unfortunately HHW collections such as this one are a rare event in South Carolina.

Charleston County Earth Day 2000

On Earth Day 2000, Safety-Kleen gave homeowners and farmers in the Charleston area the valuable opportunity to properly dispose the dozens of materials and chemical products that sat unused under sinks, in work rooms, bathroom cabinets, storage closets, garages, basements, sheds, barns and out-buildings. For a list of things Safety-Kleen accepted at their Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day [CLICK HERE].

Questions on this collection? Contact Jerry Wigfall, Jr., Safety-Kleen HTS Manager (803-496-7303, ext. 16)