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Centre County hazardous waste event collects 24 tons, pauses for potentially explosive materials

semi trucks with hazardous waste warnings on the back
Courtesy of the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority
The semi trucks for the household hazardous waste event are marked with warning signs on the back.

The Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority says it took in nearly 48,000 pounds of household hazardous waste at its collection event over the weekend. The event is meant to help residents dispose of hazardous items in a safe and environmentally friendly way, and 848 vehicles brought items to the free event.

On Friday, MXI, the vendor that ran the event, had to temporarily halt it due to potentially explosive material that was brought in. Bottles of diethyl ether and sulfuric acid deemed unstable were dealt with by the Centre Region HAZMAT team. At around 4:30 p.m. Friday, they exploded the materials to eliminate the potential hazard.

“What happened Friday is exactly the reason we hold this event,” CCRRA Executive Director Ted Onufrak said, “If residents had put some of these materials out for regular trash collection, trash haulers, authority employees and even bystanders could have been seriously injured. Similarly, first responders arriving at these residences for another emergency would also be at risk.”

The event cost of approximately $100,000 is incorporated into recycling and municipal waste disposal fees.

Emily Reddy is the news director at WPSU-FM, the NPR-affiliate public radio station for central and northern Pennsylvania.