It took the county several years to find the funding, and a safe location to place the facility. After much delay, the county finally agreed on a site, giving residents a place to take their unsafe trash.
For years, doctors like Mary Simon – who specialize in Diabetes – have told their patients not to throw away their insulin sharps in the garbage. "For us not to have a way for people to get rid of sharps is ridiculous, it's terrible. And it's been a big problem in my practice," said Dr. Simon.
Dr. Simon has a container in her office where patients bring in their used needles and syringes as opposed to have to wait every six months to get rid of them – a limited service the county offers through drop-off events to collect syringes and other household hazardous waste materials.
"For the last 20 years, we've been having two drop-off events a year and we serve 1,000 to 1,500 people at each of those events," said Leslie Kline, recycling coordinator for Fresno County. "So it's very limited. If you miss one, you have to wait 6 months for the next one."
But on Thursday morning, county leaders turned the dirt where a permanent hazardous waste facility will go up. "This is something that's been in the works for some time and we finally got it to where we're working it out. Now there will be drop-off sites in the communities around," said County Supervisor, Phil Larson.
The facility will sit next to the Regional Disposal Site in Kerman. Once completed, the $1.7 million facility will take in hazardous products not allowed in the regular trash bin, such as paint, batteries and small electronic devices. "We're only allowed to accept small quantities of household type of materials. The things that most people have in their garages and under their kitchen sinks," said Kline.
A relief for many in the Valley who have had to hold on to their dangerous waste. "It's exactly what we needed. I'm so impressed … going to stop having the barrel in my office," said Dr. Simon.
Construction of the new facility will begin Monday. Completion is not expected until spring of next year. It will then be open to residents on the weekends but there are also plans to have drop-off locations throughout the county.