Friday, April 23, 2010

Some CFL bulbs going into landfill

Bellevue rejects proposal to help recycle

Express Staff Writer

The Bellevue City Council has turned down a proposal by Council Chair Chris Koch to accept spent, energy-efficient CFL light bulbs at City Hall for disposal.

The bulbs, which contain toxic mercury, would have been collected into an EPA-approved plastic bucket and sent out of the area for safe disposal, as they are at Hailey City Hall and at the Environmental Resource Center in Ketchum.

Bellevue Councilman Brett Gelskey, who also manages the recycling facility at Ohio Gulch, spoke out against bringing the CFL bucket program to Bellevue and said he was opposed to bringing it to Ohio Gulch.

"The Environmental Protection Agency would close the facility down for a week if a bulb broke out there," he said.

ERC Executive Director Craig Barry brought the CFL bulb bucket disposal program to the valley three years ago to help keep mercury out of Idaho landfills. In an interview, he said he offered to help establish a CFL bucket program at the Ohio Gulch recycle facility in 2008, but was turned down.

Gelskey said he had worked with Barry on the bucket program, but that Barry was unable to get more buckets when Gelskey needed them.

"That's not true," Barry said. "Ohio Gulch has never agreed to participate in the program to begin with."

Terry Schultz, executive director of Southern Idaho Solid Waste District, which manages waste for a seven-county district that includes Blaine, said in an interview that he was not prepared to expand Blaine County's recycling facility "until the economy turns around."

"We are allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Environmental Quality to accept the bulbs into a landfill," Schultz said. "We tell people to double wrap them in plastic first."

The bulbs are then combined with many other kinds of trash and trucked to a landfill at Milner Butte near Burley.

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