Hazardous waste day turns many away

Jun 10, 2019

WAREHAM — The Carver Marion Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District’s Hazardous Waste Day itself turned hazardous on June 1 as waiting cars queued up all the way down Wareham’s Charge Pond Road onto Route 28. In the past, hazardous waste days have been held at two locations. This year, the only open location for residents of all three towns to bring hazardous waste accumulated over the past year was the Wareham facility on Charge Pond Road.

The line stretched past the YMCA, prompting some parents to drop young baseball players off on the side of the road to run to the game as the line was moving too slowly.

There was an accident involving an out-of-control driver who wove back and forth across the lane before hitting multiple cars, which were trapped in the bumper-to-bumper traffic.

A medical incident at the YMCA further backed up traffic.

Drivers who got sick of waiting crossed into the opposite lane to make U-turns to leave. No one was directing traffic on Charge Pond Road.

Paul Hyde of Marion, who said he arrived between 10 and 10:30 a.m. to drop off some waste before heading to work at one, said traffic was backed up to Route 28 when he arrived.

When he reached the front of the line at 12:30 on the dot, he watched the person ahead of him begin to unload waste and was told that he needed to turn around and leave as no more waste could be accepted.

Several other residents contacted Wareham Week, Sippican Week’s sister paper, to share their experience of being turned away.

One woman who was involved in the car accident was dismayed after being turned away. Her car was hit and she decided to continue to wait for a total of about two and a half hours to complete the errand, but was unable to do so. She felt that the single police officer who responded to the accident, which involved four cars, was insufficient, and thought that there should have been a police detail to direct traffic.

Another Wareham resident stopped by the office and said that when a town employee said they needed to leave without dropping off their waste, “We inquired why and he unkindly said, in so many words, we were holding up traffic by asking him that question.”

Waste District director Jeffrey Osuch said that the Waste Disposal Committee made the decision to hold the Hazardous Waste Day only in Wareham, and that an hour was added to the length of the event in an attempt to accommodate everyone.

He attributed much of the backup to the fact that people arrived as early as 6:30 a.m. for the event, which was scheduled to start at 9 a.m., and estimated that about 75 cars were lined up when the gate opened. 

Over the course of the event, about 370 cars were unloaded, at a rate of almost 100 cars an hour. Osuch said that there was so much waste dropped off that crews were sorting it until about 9 p.m. The trailer truck and six-wheel box truck the company brought to haul away the waste could not hold everything, and about 18 or 20 drums with a capacity of 55 gallons had to be picked up several weeks later.

“The volume was excessively high,” said Osuch. “What people were bringing certainly wasn’t accumulated over a year or so.”

Additionally, a good portion of material could have been disposed of at the regular transfer stations or a recycling center, including fluorescent lights, paints, auto batteries, propane tanks, thinners, waste oil, and mercury. Waste oil can be returned to the stores at which it was purchased.

Osuch said he understood people’s frustration and apologized for it. 

The date for the next Hazardous Waste Day has not yet been set. Osuch said that there are only a few companies who do these days, and since the events are usually only held on Saturdays during the warmer months, the companies are ususally booked up months in advance. There is a possibility that a day would be held in November.

Osuch was not sure why the drive stopped accepting waste early, but said that he had heard it was due to safety concerns about the traffic back-up.

Only one police detail was originally on site. Two more were called at around 11 or 11:30 a.m.