A new permanent facility where Benton County residents can dump household hazardous waste likely won't be built anytime soon.
The former facility, operated by Richland at the city's Horn Rapids Landfill, was destroyed last June by a fire of undetermined cause.
Since then, officials at Benton County, which received grant money from the state Department of Ecology to collect the hazardous waste, have discussed building a new facility but have no viable options, said Donna Holmes, the county solid waste specialist.
"It'd be great to get a permanent facility. We've talked about joining forces with Franklin County, but they're all just in the planning stages," said Holmes, who works in the county public works department. "Because of the economic climate right now, everything's so iffy."
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Holmes said she gets frequents calls -- and suspects the cities do too -- from residents wanting to know how to safely dispose of their hazardous waste.
Hazardous waste includes paint, cleaning agents, polishes, antifreeze, batteries, gasoline, propane cylinders, transmission and brake fluid, wood preservatives and stains, motor oil, pesticides, pool chemicals, adhesives and glues, aerosols and fluorescent light bulbs.
Benton County has contracted with a Kent-based company to collect and dispose of or recycle hazardous waste. Holmes said the plan is to have two collection events so residents can properly dispose of their waste.
The next event is set Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Enterprise Middle School, 5200 Paradise Way, West Richland. All county residents can drop off household hazardous waste.
Small businesses that used to have to make an appointment and pay a fee to take hazardous materials to the landfill will not be allowed to take waste to the household hazardous waste collection event, Holmes said.
She is, however, working with the same company to arrange a collection event for small businesses.
In addition to not having money available for a new permanent facility, Holmes said county officials also don't have a place to build it. Richland doesn't want to be responsible for the facility anymore, she said, and there are very specific rules about where a hazardous waste facility can be built.
"It has to be a certain number acres ... and at this point we don't have anything that we be close enough to the population hub, but not too close," she said.
Holmes said residents can reduce their hazardous waste that needs dumping by finding ways to give it to people who could use it. Leftover paint, for example, could be given to Habitat for Humanity, the graffiti abatement program or even a neighbor down the street. Garden chemicals can be donated to garden clubs or a high school FFA class.
"We try to get people to realize you don't have to get rid of this stuff if there's someone who can use it," she said. "Also, don't buy things that you're going to get rid of later. I know that's easy to say and harder to do."
Paint is on the hazardous waste list, but Holmes said paint isn't a hazardous chemical unless it has lead in it. Liquid paint can't go into landfills that aren't lined, but if paint is dried in the can, it can be safely disposed of in the regular trash.
The county's household hazardous waste site also provides information on places where some hazardous waste -- such as electronics, fluorescent light bulbs, antifreeze and motor oil -- can be taken throughout the year.