New York, N.Y. -- Under the terms of an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the City of Buffalo will host nine community recycling events to collect fluorescent light bulbs, electronic waste, and household hazardous waste from city residents. This program will reduce the likelihood of exposure by residents to harmful chemicals found in these products, while also reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills. The agreement settles violations of hazardous waste requirements. The City of Buffalo will also pay a $21,094 penalty and spend at least $79,000 on the nine community recycling events.
“Many products found in the home can be harmful to the environment and human health if not disposed of correctly,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Household hazardous waste, such as petroleum products, paint solvents/thinners and pesticides can be dangerous and should be disposed of properly. Likewise, fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, and should be recycled whenever possible. By implementing this program, the City of Buffalo will have a positive impact on the health of its residents.”
In September 2008, the EPA inspected the City of Buffalo’s Department of Public Works, Parks, and Streets and other offices at Buffalo’s City Hall. The EPA found violations of hazardous waste rules and cited Buffalo for failure to make hazardous waste determinations for its used fluorescent bulbs, and failure to properly maintain its facilities in a way that minimizes the chance of hazardous waste releases. In April 2011, the EPA and the City of Buffalo reached an agreement, and Buffalo certified that it would comply with federal and state requirements for the management of hazardous waste.
In September 2011, the EPA inspected five sites owned and operated by the City of Buffalo. During these inspections, the EPA discovered several hundred containers, which contained waste paints, paint thinners, solvents, and related wastes in a former paint shop. Some of those containers were corroded and leaking, and not properly labeled and stored. Under federal hazardous waste regulations, containers of chemicals must be stored properly and wastes that are identified as hazardous must be disposed of properly. The EPA also discovered several hundred spent fluorescent bulbs stored in the Mechanical Services Building and in Buffalo City Hall, and discovered dozens of discarded cathode ray tubes (CRTs) haphazardly stored in multiple locations owned by the City of Buffalo. CRTs are the glass video display components of electronic devices (usually computer or non-flat screen television monitors). CRTs can contain enough lead to require managing them as hazardous waste.
As a result of the 2011 inspections, the EPA issued a complaint in September 2013 citing Buffalo for numerous violations of federal regulations for the management of hazardous waste, including the failure to make timely hazardous waste determinations, the failure to keep containers in good condition and to transfer hazardous waste to containers in good condition, the failure to minimize risks of fire, explosion and releases, and the failure to comply with the consent order and final agreement contained in the previous complaint.
Under the terms of the settlement announced today, Buffalo will improve its handling of hazardous waste to ensure that it complies with environmental laws and implement a program to recycle or properly dispose of fluorescent bulbs, e-waste, and household hazardous waste collected at waste collection events. The events will take place in each of the nine Common Council districts throughout the city. Household hazardous wastes that Buffalo will collect include household pesticides, chemicals, paints and thinners, gasoline and antifreeze products, and mercury based thermometers.
For more information on safely handling fluorescent bulbs, visit: http://www.epa.gov/cfl/.
For more information on the proper handling of hazardous household waste, visit: http://epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/hhw.htm