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Solid Waste District Uncertain How to Dispose of Refrigerators
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
10:25AM / Tuesday, April 18, 2017
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The waste management district is discussing how to meet DEP regulations in regard to refrigerators and propane tanks.

ADAMS, Mass. — Refrigerators and propane tanks can be a nuisance to get rid of, even for the Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management District.
 
After getting feedback from the Department of Environmental Protection, the regional organization unsure how to properly dispose of them. 
 
Although the waste group's committee was unable to get a quorum Thursday, Program Director Linda Cernik told those who attended that district has to find a new way to dispose of refrigerators because they must be drained of Freon and documented before they are scrapped.
 
Typically the company taking the fridge will drain it, however, there has to be 25 units before it will make a run. Cernik said this leaves many transfer stations with undrained refrigerators sitting around that cannot be placed with scrap. 
 
"My biggest concern is the bulky waste collection because if I get one refrigerator, I am in trouble because I can't leave it where it is and I can't call someone to just take one," she said.
 
She said if the refrigerators still work, the problem should take care of itself. Mass Save will take them and often retailers are obligated to take back appliances they have sold.
 
Windsor representative Douglas McNally said the district may just have to do a better job educating people.
 
"Part of this is educating the public and telling them if they buy a fridge that store will take it when you are done with it," he said. "If you are ill advised and hang on to it, it becomes an issue."
 
Williamstown representative Timothy Kaiser said the refrigerators are sometimes too old to return to a store. He said the specific retailer may not even exist anymore. 
 
"People don't want to get rid of refrigerators that work," he said. "A lot of people get a new fridge but the old one still works so it goes in the garage to keep the beer cold."  
 
Lanesborough representative Joseph Szczepaniak Jr. suggested the district could arrange an agreement with its scrap contractor and write in the contract that it must extract the Freon as well as document the extraction before taking the refrigerator.
 
"We have a new contract coming up for scrap and we can put in the contract. They have to take them extract the Freon, and take it out of our hands," he said. "They will take it. These guys are scavengers and they want metal. They love that scrap that is their forte ... it's found money and we don't need to handle it."
 
Cernik said she will see if the district's scrap contractor would be willing to do this and document the extraction. She said it may cost the district more.
 
The DEP also asked what the district did with propane tanks and suggested it hire a company to drain and dispose of them.
 
Cernik said she did some research and found removal companies will provide a container to store the tanks and will pay the district for tanks that still work. The district would have to pay to have rusted tanks that no longer work removed.
 
McNally said he has always told people to bring tanks back to where they bought them or some facility that fills them.
 
The district will solidify the plans when it has a quorum.
 
In other business, Cernik said even though the district no longer collects latex paint because it is not a hazardous material, some of the transfer stations have been taking them.
 
She said she will have to dry them all out and dispose of them.
 
Cernik reiterated that if people have latex paint they can dry it out with kitty litter or mulch.
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