John G. McGrath – The Hale Center for Journalism
Well, it depends on which side of the state line you live.
In Missouri, you can take them to two permanent collection facilities. One is in Lee’s Summit, and the other is here in Kansas City, located at 4707 Deramus, just south of the Chouteau Bridge in the East Bottoms. Robert Fort, Environmental Manager, said that if you have chemicals to get rid of, he and his team will take care of you. He proudly hangs a whiteboard next to his office where he keeps track of how much household waste comes in.
“The largest amount we have brought in on one day, in a single event, and we’re still looking to break that record, is 16,336 pounds,” Fort said. An average collection day brings in about 8,000 pounds.
The Kansas City, Mo., collection facility is open Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
“We have dangerous when wet, flammable solid, and spontaneously combustable (material) up here,” Fort said, as he showed a secure yellow locker for storing the most hazardous materials. “We hold those products until we get enough that we can go ahead, in what we call lab pack that product, and send those products off for incineration. These are what we call our high-haz items.”
Fort has been the Environmental Manager at the Kansas City facility for more than 16 years. He and his team take the old materials from area residents and place them on carts. The material is then weighed and segregated into proper disposal containers.
On the other side of the state line, residents can use the Kansas hazardous waste disposal program, but they should plan ahead, as an appointment is required.
Appointments are necessary because the household hazardous waste facility is located inside a secure water treatment plant and with a small staff they need to avoid getting overloaded with drop-offs.
To find the proper recycling facility in your area, visit www.recyclespot.org.
All of the facilities have seen just about every crazy type of chemical come their way. Over the years, they have also seen other material come through the doors.
Fort says years ago, even before he worked there, a normal bucket of garden variety chemicals made its way into the plant. An employee at the time noticed that this particular bucket weighed a lot more than it should. Straining to dump the bucket over a high dumpster wall, there was a loud thud down inside the dumpster. Sure enough, after climbing in to see what made all the racket, there were three solid silver bars. After some checking, they found out who brought in the bucket of silver, and they were returned to a very grateful owner.
Later it was found that each bar was worth more than $3,000.
For Brandon Hearn and his coworkers at the Johnson County facility, one of their favorite stories is the bomb scare.
A few years ago, an elderly woman brought in the remnants of her late husband’s chemical collection that had built up in their basement for years: things she didn’t want lying around, like DDT and a fully functioning WWI grenade. She knew the weapon shouldn’t be thrown in the trash, so she called hazardous waste disposal for help. The police were called, and the bomb squad was sent in to dispose of old weapon.
“It was pretty cool looking,” Hearn said jokingly. He also mentioned that it was good training for the bomb squad.
So silver bars and grenades aside, it’s pretty much paint and household chemicals that make their way to each facility. But knowing where you can take any strange chemical that is lurking in the corner of your garage is a good thing. And both side of the state line have you covered.
For hours, fees and other information visit recyclespot.org.