Bangor event helps residents clean up

Posted Oct. 05, 2008, at 9:41 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 5:55 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A typical weekend trip to the dump it was not.

The long lines, paperwork and workers in white jumpsuits saw to that.

The city of Bangor held a 21-community household hazardous waste collection day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, collecting items not welcome at local transfer stations or by roadside pickup.

“Ten or 12 years ago, people might have just thrown some of this stuff in the trash, but there has been a big change in the way people do things,” said Dana Wardwell, Bangor’s public works director. “We’ve seen many more participants in recent years, which is great.”

Among the sometimes foul and messy waste disposed of Saturday was: oil-based paint, motor oil, used antifreeze, fluorescent light bulbs, batteries, pesticides and old electronics.

In fact, according to John Turcogeorge of Veolia Environmental Services of Stoughton, Mass., which collected all of the waste, nondigital televisions were the most popular item.

“I think with people having to switch to digital next year and get a converter, folks figured this was a good time to get rid of their old TVs,” Turcogeorge said.

Cars began lining up outside the city public works building just after 9 a.m. They were ushered through the entrance where they presented permits and were directed to one of four stations, depending on the type of waste they were disposing of. Participants could bring a maximum of 15 gallons of waste and one each of computers, monitors or televisions.

“I had some used oil in the garage from my lawn mower and some other stuff,” said one man while waiting in line. “But I also brought along an old TV we weren’t using.”

Many items that are considered universal waste can be disposed of year-round for a nominal fee, Wardwell said. Although a permit is required, there was no fee to participate in the annual hazardous waste day.

That doesn’t mean it’s free though. The collection day cost about $80,000 to staff, Wardwell said, which included contracting Veolia to dispose of the waste.

“Everything that we take in here is recycled, if possible,” Turcogeorge said. “We’re able to reuse a lot more than we ever used to.”

Each community that participated, from as far away as Etna and Stockton Springs, also contributed a few volunteers each to help the day run smoothly.

“This started with some state funding, but that doesn’t exist anymore,” Wardwell said. “But it’s quite an operation, really.”

Every once in a while, participants come through with items that cannot be taken.

“We’ve had explosives and propane tanks, stuff like that,” Wardwell said. “If we can’t take something, we’ll refer them to someone who can.

“Besides taking in waste, a lot of what we do each year is educate people.”

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