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HOUGHTON COUNTY– As the clean-up continues across the Copper Country, relief efforts are shifting from the roads to the homefront. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality hosted a hazardous waste collection in Lake Linden.
“Hazardous waste shouldn’t go in with household trash because it ends up in the landfill and it poisons the ground water,” said Mary Ann St. Antoine, Environmental Quality Analyst for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. “This is why we’ve sponsored this event, to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Sorting through the hazardous waste requires professional hands. For this collection, the DEQ brought up a team from Environmental Waste Management and Remediation.
“What we’re doing is removing the stuff from people’s vehicles and it’s coming in all kinds of condition,” said Edward Dawkins, Lead Chemist with Environmental Waste Management and Remediation. “A lot of it is missing its labels, but what they do is they bring it and unload it from the car, set it on the tables. Then, our chemists do the sorting because a lot of the material is unlabeled.”
A lot of the material being dropped off are solvents, paint waste and electronic waste. The group covers Michigan, Ohio and Indiana and conduct over 100 hazardous waste collections a year.
“Basically, we try to recycle what we can and handle at least to the same manner that industrial chemicals would be handled,” said Dawkins. “The latex paint we recycle. It’s sent to a latex paint reconditioner, they open up all of the cans, blend all of the paints and make a new product out of it and recycle the containers. The oil based paints, thinners and solvents- those are sent to a fuel blender to be made into a liquid fuel that replaces coal or oil. Aerosol cans is the same principal, they’re punctured and the fluids are removed.”
Once the materials are sorted, the group will pack up and head back downstate where the waste will be recycled.