Toxic pesticide container shutters recycling facility

Posted in the Martinez Forum


Vallejo, CA

#1 May 8, 2013
Toxic pesticide container shutters recycling facility

It is not that often that a foul odor stands out from the pungent mix that is a daily reality at Recology Vallejo's recycling facility.

Earlier this month, however, glass-crushing sorting line workers caught the scent of more than just a new smell -- it was a noxious odor now believed to be caused by someone's thrown-out poisonous pesticide.

"One of the things I'd like people to understand is these materials are all being handled by other people," Recology Vallejo General Manager Tom Phillips said Tuesday. "So think about it, if you're using extra caution when you're handling this container at home, and you're going to throw that (out)... that may not be a wise choice."

The May 1 incident, first reported around 7:30 a.m., led to the evacuation and shuttering of the 2021 Broadway plant for the day, with two employees sent to their doctors as a precautionary measure. Both received a subsequent clean bill of health from their doctors, Phillips said.

"It has a far-reaching effect as far as production, but what it really does is puts our people in harm's way. That's our biggest concern," Phillips said of the incident.

That pesticide's presence also prompted the company to report the discharge to the Solano County Department of Resource Management, which deemed the incident a "medium risk to public health and environment."

Department Environmental Health Manager Terry Schmidtbauer qualified a "medium risk" in this case as not serving as a threat to the greater public, yet still requiring outside response to the site.

"It was a medium risk because it was a definite change in their usual operation," Schmidtbauer said.

When it comes to worker safety, Phillips said serious customer transgressions include trying to recycle any type of pesticide-holding container, car batteries, ammunition, sharps and liquid chemicals that might become toxic or flammable when mixed with other wastes.

"What happens when something like that emits an odor or a vapor that is noxious, sometimes it could cause immediate health concerns with somebody, like shortness of breath or burning of the lungs or irritation of the eyes, Phillips said."

Household wastes -- even just small amounts -- should be taken to a household hazardous waste drop-off site, like the Devlin Road Recycling and Transfer Station, 889 Devlin Road, American Canyon, Phillips said.

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