New Orleans, La. – For the first time since Hurricane Katrina, residents of New Orleans over the weekend could drop off hazardous materials for safe disposal and at no cost. Cars lined up at the transfer station on Elysian Fields Avenue, where residents got rid of leftover paint, computers, batteries, televisions, toxic cleaning products and other materials that should not be placed in their regular trash bins.
Coordinating the event was Cynthia Sylvain-Lear, acting director of the sanitation department.
" We know that a lot of our citizens had items in their homes and their garages that they didn't know what to do with." :09
After pulling in, drivers were asked what they had to drop off. The materials were then picked up and sorted for disposal. City workers were on hand, along with volunteers and groups that specialize in breaking down specific hazardous materials, such as computers that are refurbished are passed on to families. Sylvain-Lear says the city is reaching out for more sponsors to help defray the cost.
"We've had lots and lots of people work with us. We've been planning this. We started actually talking about it and wanting to do it last year, but there is a significant cost to putting this event on, because we have to pay to dispose of a number of the items. A lot we were able to get at no cost but there are a lot of things that we're going to have to pay for. But it's still worth it, than to find it on a vacant lot or in a canal or someplace else." :29
Until the city arranges the next drop-off, Sylvain-Lear is advising people to store their hazardous material in original containers or in plastic bins for safekeeping.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming.