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NEWS | May 19, 2010

NRSW's Hazardous Waste Program Provides Environmental Solutions

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kari R. Rodriguez Navy Region Southwest

Improper disposal of waste materials can have serious consequences on military personnel and commands, ranging from impact to health, damage to the environment, as well as heavy fines and penalties. 

Hazardous, universal, medical and electronic wastes all require specific handling, storage and disposal procedures. Navy Region Southwest's (NRSW) hazardous waste program provides the resources needed to understand what can and can't be put into any recycling or solid waste container. 

According to Christina Graulau, program manger, not disposing of certain items correctly could potentially cause short or long term injury and illness, have adverse side effects on the environment such as contaminating the air, water, soil or harming animals and plants.

"Many things you use, whether at work or at home have special handling and disposal requirements, otherwise those items could potentially harm the earth," Graulau said. Harmful items include Pharmaceutical items, florescent light bulbs, aerosol spray cans, mercury switches, batteries, paints and oild of all kinds, and treated wood.

"Regulated items are not just limited to Navy installations but also to your household hazardous materials. Cities and counties have waste collection centers or events for those items not allowed in regular trash," Graulau said. 

Residents can find a local center at http://www.earth911.org/master.asp. 

Graulau added, there are penalties involved in not disposing of certain items correctly.

"The most important thing to remember is to protect your health and safety. Also, there are civil and criminal penalties that can be up to $25,000 per-day, per-violation," said Graulau. "Commands can be held liable and the individual can also be held personally liable." 

Graulau added that commands need educate their personnel to help ensure the proper handling and disposal procedures for certain items.

"The number one thing commands can do is be aware of what the requirements are and incorporate the requirements into their day-to-day operations," Graulau said. "Also, if anyone on the installations sees a discrepancy, they need to report it to their bases environmental office."

Graulau added that the hazardous waste program's main goal is to prevent pollution by reducing, reusing, recycling and putting waste where it is properly managed.

"This program is really designed to take as much of the waste and find a value for it and then minimize the amount that we actually have to send to the landfill," Graulau said. 

For a complete list of regulated items and for guidance on waste management visit https://www.cnic.navy.mil/cnrsw/programs/index.htm.