On Saturday the Sedalia-Pettis County Emergency Management Agency hosted a household hazardous waste pickup at the Missouri State Fairgrounds. The event was sponsored by the Region F Solid Waste District, which includes Morgan, Saline, Pettis, Johnson and Lafayette counties. The EMA was able to hose this event due to a grant from the Solid Waste District.
Clean Harbors was awarded the grant contract through the Solid Waste District. Our job from the city of Sedalia and Pettis County was to support the event. As is normal, the EMA was keeping an eye on the weather. We were not expecting any severe weather, but knew there was a possibility of a thunderstorm. Around 9:45 a.m. we saw a non-severe storm to our west. After consultation with the National Weather Service we knew there could be rain and lightning. I informed the Clean Harbors Project Director of the potential for hazardous weather.
Clean Harbors has a protocol that they follow when dealing with a household hazardous waste pickup and a possibility of lightning. They also have a protocol that states how many hours employees may work and still transport what is defined as a hazardous material by federal and state regulations.
The direction given by the Clean Harbors Project Director was that we could only accept items from vehicles that were already on the fairgrounds. At that point Clean Harbors employees were required to start bulk packaging the materials collected. This decision was made (by Clean Harbors) based on the information available. As we know, we had some rain and very little lightening.
This was not a decision made by the city, Pettis County or the Region F. Solid Waste District. The decision was made based on the safety of Clean Harbors employees and volunteers handling the materials. Environmental concerns also had to be taken into consideration, because a spill and mixture of certain types of chemicals can be very dangerous and can cause a very expensive and time consuming clean-up operation.
We are working with the Region F Solid Waste District to host another event. We have officially requested another pickup for October 2014.
On behalf of the city and Pettis County, I would like to offer my sincere apologies to all who were affected by this. I know that many people worked very hard to dispose of these items properly, only to be told we couldn’t take them. I, too, would have been upset.
We will continue to press forward and get another event in Pettis County as soon as we can. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Director, Sedalia-Pettis County Emergency Management Agency