Thumbs up: HazoHouse
The thousands of South Sound residents who want to safely dispose of their hazardous waste have a new place to take their materials. The so-called HazoHouse at the Hawks Prairie landfill site has new digs. The doors to the $1.2 million center, which also includes the county’s recycling operation and the Goodwill Industries drop-off service, was scheduled to open Friday. The HazoHouse has operated at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center at 2418 Hogum Bay Road in Lacey since 1989, but the new sheltered drop-off area, easy drive-in/drive-out access and improved ventilation system for employees and customers are welcome additions. HazoHouse will be open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays through Tuesdays. The other recycling services are open from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. seven days a week. The cost to operate and renovate the center is paid for with garbage disposal fees at the waste and recovery center. The HazoHouse serves a tremendous purpose because it encourages residents to safely dispose of their hazardous waste, which is good for human health and the environment. In 2002, 7,364 customers brought 117 tons of hazardous waste to the center. The 2009 figures show 16,396 customers disposed of 410 tons of unwanted toxic products. It’s clear that an increasing number of South Sound residents want to do the right thing and safely dispose of their hazardous waste.
Thumbs down: Wrongful Detention
You would think that the United States government would be able to quickly confirm whether a detainee was in the country legally – especially an Army veteran. The U.S. government has agreed to pay $400,000 to Rennison Castillo, an American citizen and Army veteran from this state who was locked up for seven months while immigration officials wrongly tried to deport him. Castillo was transferred to the Northwest Detention Center in 2005 when he finished serving a jail sentence for violating a protection order and harassment. The native of Belize explained repeatedly that he had become a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1998 while serving in the Army, but neither Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials nor an immigration judge believed him. He was finally released after the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and Seattle attorneys took up his case on appeal. “ICE officers did not listen to me when I told them repeatedly that I was a U.S. citizen and had served in the Army at Fort Lewis,” Castillo said in a written statement. “They were disrespectful and told me that I would say anything to get out of detention.” Wouldn’t you think the government could verify citizenship through its own records – quicker than the seven months Castillo languished in custody? Officials say Castillo’s case was complicated by the fact that his immigration files listed two names and misspelled versions of his first and last name. He also didn’t have immediate family in the area to call for help. That said, the government comes away with a black eye on this case – and $400,000 poorer, too.
Thumbs up: Pier Removal
Crews have begun dismantling the dilapidated pier at the old state Department of Natural Resources marine station at Gull Harbor in Budd Inlet. When the project is completed, crews will have removed about 400 tons of wood debris, including more than 230 creosote-soaked pilings – which will be disposed at a hazardous waste landfill in Oregon. The DNR pier removal project is the latest in a series of restoration projects on the 4-acre shoreline property that one day could lead to beach access for the public and continued use of the site for storage of marine vessels and equipment by multiple state and local government agencies. After the aging wharf is removed, DNR will start testing for contaminants in the sediments around the dock where more than 100 mothballed Navy vessels – from warships to patrol boats – were moored from 1946 to 1972. DNR purchased the dock, buildings and upland property north of Olympia from the federal government in 1979 for $490,000. The state agency uses the site to house marine vessels and equipment used by its geoduck program. Redside Construction of Port Gamble is in charge of the project. The company is using construction and oil containment booms to corral debris and absorb oil from the dislodged pilings. The construction company expects to complete its work by mid-March.