Long lines mar hazardous waste drop off event

Josh Brown, an environmental technician with the Fulton County Solid Waste Department, helps separate residents lined up on the Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Day Saturday into two groups. Some had hazardous waste while others were doing their regular Saturday non-hazardous waste drop-off. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

Josh Brown, an environmental technician with the Fulton County Solid Waste Department, helps separate residents lined up on the Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Day Saturday into two groups. Some had hazardous waste while others were doing their regular Saturday non-hazardous waste drop-off. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

JOHNSTOWN — The county’s Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Day Saturday was both the best and worse of days.

On one hand, the county got rid of waste that shouldn’t go into the landfill, such as paints, solvents, pesticides, driveway sealants. “The fact that it [the day] was so well received and so well used is a good thing,” said Cindy Livingston, acting director of the Fulton County Solid Waste Department.

She said more 340 people had appointments to dispose of hazardous waste, not counting people who just showed up with hazardous waste or people who normally stop in on Saturdays to get rid of other wastes.

On the other hand, hundreds of people in vehicles lined up bumper to bumper for a half-mile during the 7 a.m. to noon program, and they were anything but cheerful. Some motorists who saw the line just turned around and left.

Many such as Mike Rogers of Caroga Lake wondered why the department has people make appointments and then don’t get them in a timely fashion. “They’ve handled this poorly” in terms of enforceing appointments, he said.

Hundreds of vehicles line up bumper to bumper for a half-mile for the every-two-year Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Day Saturday at the Fulton County Solid Waste Department. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

Hundreds of vehicles line up bumper to bumper for a half-mile for the every-two-year Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Day Saturday at the Fulton County Solid Waste Department. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

Beth Kelley of Rotterdam Junction, who was driving her mother, Joan Kelley of Johnstown, wondered why the department didn’t figure out a way to speed the process “if they knew how many people were going to show up.”

Annette Fry of Northville felt the delays were “ridiculous.”

Others asked why the program is being done only every other year instead of annually.

“We’re asking people to bear with it,” said Livingston.

“We’re doing the best we can.”

Livingston was trying to improve the flow by diverting people with non-hazardous waste into a separate line and then had to call up Josh Brown, an environmental technician with department, to help her.

Livingston said the department brings in a company specializing in hazardous waste disposal for the program. She said the department will evaluate the frequency of the program and how to make the drop-off more efficient and therefore easier for residents.

“We’ll see what we can do better the next time.”

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