Accepting hazardous materials at the Winneshiek County Recycling Center in Freeport will be safer and provide better service to the public, according to County Recycling Manager Terry Buenzow.
He was recently successful in applying for a $54,663 grant through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources that paid for a new hazardous materials facility that is part of the main recycling plant in Freeport. It will formally open after a ribbon cutting 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 18. Hours will be 6 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“After the 18th, we won’t have to have dedicated cleanup days again,” Buenzow said. “I can say ‘Bring it out now.’ Residents will no longer have to hold onto it for months.”
The county has held hazardous cleanup days on an annual basis, or twice a year, and residents bringing materials to drop off have had to wait in a line of vehicles almost a mile long, he said.
“This will be far more efficient,” he said.

‘Truly hazardous’
The materials that will be accepted are considered “truly hazardous,” Buenzow said, including banned insecticides, such as DDT.
Some homeowners have Agent Orange, which was used as a broadleaf killer in the early 1970s, he said.
The program is free for county residents, but fees will be charged for businesses and farms. Anyone with questions about what qualifies can contact the recycling center at 563-382-6514.
“We’ll return the call as soon as we can,” Buenzow said.
Many people are puzzled by what is considered a household hazardous material, he said.
“It’s not house paint. A large number of things are not hazardous,” Buenzow said.
“If the label says poison, toxic, danger, flammable, or keep out of reach of children, it is likely considered to be a household hazardous material,” he said.
Examples of materials the hazardous materials facility will accept are mouse poison, gopher pellets, insecticides, moth balls, weed killers, oven cleaners, drain openers, solvents, strippers, pool chemicals, thermostats, thermometers, adhesives, fluorescent light bulbs, full/partially full aerosol cans, propane tanks, motor oil, antifreeze and oil-based paints. Rechargeable batteries and cell phones, which are not allowed in the trash, are also accepted at the hazardous materials facility.
The hazardous materials facility will not accept latex/water-based paint that should be dried and thrown in the trash, or alkaline batteries, which also can be disposed of in the trash. Buenzow advised residents to contact their pharmacies or health care providers on the disposal of medical waste and pharmaceuticals.

Unique
The new hazardous materials facility is unique in Iowa, Buenzow said.
“This will be a different facility than most places have and will be run differently than the rest of the state,” he said.
He said most other facilities require appointments and are only open for a portion of the year.
“We’re open year round, with no appointments required,” Buenzow said.
“We will focus on operating efficiently – we’re not adding staff,” he said.
All employees at the recycling center are certified in household hazardous materials handling and identification.

Deadly
Improperly handling hazardous materials can be deadly, Buenzow said.
He’s aware of a local couple that was driving with gopher pellets in the trunk of their car, waiting for a hazardous cleanup day to dispose of them.
“If the pellets had tipped over and mixed with water, it would have gassed and killed them,” he said.
Earlier this year, four family members living in a mobile home in Texas died from fumes from a rodenticide.
The family, living in Amarillo, Texas, had been using a pesticide containing aluminum phosphide to kill mice under the home. Often used in a pellet form, the chemical is buried and moisture in the ground converts it into gas, which kills the rodent.
According to surviving family members, the chemical turned deadly when a family member sprayed water on the pesticide to try and clear it from under the home.