We wonder how many local residents knew about the big, once-a-year event last Saturday - no, not the rugby or waterski tournaments. We're talking about Household Hazardous Waste Day at the town of North Elba's Recycling Center and Transfer Station.
You probably missed it, too, didn't you? It's never well promoted. One of our staff members bought a house once owned by an old auto mechanic, and the basement is full of unknown auto fluids, plus ancient weed killer and a mess of other toxic stuff. There's only one day a year to get rid of it locally, and every year he misses it. So it just sits there year after year, probably polluting the air with noxious fumes.
There is one more chance in 2014, though: Essex County has two Household Hazardous Waste Days a year, and the second is this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. - but it's almost an hour's drive away, at the town of North Hudson's highway garage. (Take I-87 south, get off at exit 29, right on Blue Ridge Road, left on Route 9 and right on Dump Road.)
You can't be late, you must show proof that you live in Essex County (a tax or utility bill will do), and businesses' waste is not allowed, but still, it's better than nothing - which is what neighboring Franklin County provides its residents.
When one of our staffers, who lives on the Franklin County side of Saranac Lake, called that county's transfer station in Lake Clear to ask about household hazardous waste disposal, the man there said, "Just take it to a junkyard." When informed there are no junkyards around here, the guy was dumbfounded. The best he could suggest was to take it to Essex County and lie about residency.
We don't recommend you do that. The Essex County folks are on the lookout for it because of their neighboring county's disregard.
Oil-based paint, solvents, pool chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, insecticide, gas-oil mixtures, acids, fertilizer - we don't want to dump this stuff in the woods. This is the Adirondacks, and we care too much about plants, animals and our own drinking water to do that. Yet that's the only alternative counties like Franklin leave their people. It's shameful.
So thank goodness the folks in Essex County show a little more sense in that regard. We're sure it's not easy - if it was, recycling centers would be able to take this stuff every day. Nevertheless, we hope someday they will be able to do just that.
Keeping poisons like these out of our water and soil ought to be more of a priority throughout the Adirondack Park. That's where environmental groups could be spending their time, money and attention, instead of suing to stop homes being built on already-logged land in Tupper Lake, and holding that community's economy hostage in the process.