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1:07 AM Fri, Sept. 21st

Collection day takes in 'astronomical' amount of hazardous waste

Courier/Nathaniel Kastelic
Allen Fernandez, front left, and Ramsey Thompson, both with Prescott Fire Crew 7, unload paint and oil from a vehicle at the free household hazardous waste collection day at the Prescott Transfer Station Sunday.

Courier/Nathaniel Kastelic Allen Fernandez, front left, and Ramsey Thompson, both with Prescott Fire Crew 7, unload paint and oil from a vehicle at the free household hazardous waste collection day at the Prescott Transfer Station Sunday.

PRESCOTT ­ Hundreds of garages and storage areas throughout the Prescott area are a little safer this week.

On Sunday, more than 600 households got rid of their hoarded paint, used motor oil, defunct computers, and mercury supplies during a free household hazardous waste collection day at the Prescott Transfer Station.

For a full five hours, employees at the transfer station dealt with cars and trucks carrying substances that pose a threat to the environment.

Even though the city had expected a deluge of materials, Prescott Solid Waste Superintendent Chad McDowell said the volumes took them by surprise.

"It blew us away on how many came through there," McDowell said of the 621 vehicles that lined up for the service. The city had expected about 500 cars, he said.

Even more surprising than the numbers was the amount of hazardous waste that each car carried. "The volume was astronomical," McDowell said, noting that the consultants who helped conduct the collection day indicated that the 621 cars held "over 1,000 cars' worth of volume."

Old paint was the most common substance; the city took in about 6,000 gallons. In addition, workers collected: 1,500 gallons of used motor oil; 300 tires; 128 car batteries; 1,000 to 1,500 gallons of flammable liquids such as gasoline; 55 gallons of anti-freeze; 665 gallons of pesticides; and 10 gallons of mercury.

Along with substances, the city also took in piles of electronic devices. McDowell said the old computers, monitors and televisions filled a 40-yard roll-off Dumpster.

In all, the hazardous waste filled two large semi-trucks and two of the 40-yard Dumpsters.

The city received financial help from other local governments for the event, and residents from throughout the area were welcome to participate. McDowell said the bulk of the participants came from Prescott (388), while smaller numbers also came from Prescott Valley (86), unincorporated Yavapai County (59), Chino Valley (55) and Dewey-Humboldt (33).

Officials will not know the total cost of the event until after the consultants tally up the various substances. The city earlier budgeted about $100,000 for the event. Other governments pledged an additional $34,000, based upon the level of participation from their residents.

Contact the reporter at cbarks@prescottaz.com