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Case Study: The Forbidden Apple Orchard

April 18, 2014

Kathi Horton, in her mid-seventies, inherited a 20 Acre Apple Orchard from her father who had long since passed away. Unfortunately, she also inherited some hazardous material.

The local City Council, looking to annex the property for an industrial park expansion, was asked to send a member to visit the site. Simultaneously, a citizen reported the property to the EPA Hotline which was passed down to the Michigan State Police and on to the county emergency management director. Planning by the Morenci Fire Department ensued for an emergency evacuation that might be necessary during the clean-up process.

Meanwhile, Kathi found herself at the edges of a mounting storm- much of it comprised of over-reaction and misinformation. She wanted to do the right thing, but she was unaccustomed to the rules and regulations regarding hazardous waste. Needing an expert to assist her, she picked up the phone and called Hazardous Waste Experts. Dr. John Bell took the call and immediately asked for photos of the container labels and discovered that these materials were pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides manufactured prior to the 1970s, and had since been banned by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Bell got to work, devising a solution with a beneficial outcome for Kathi and local regulators.

Once the date was set, Dr. Bell invited a member of the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources to observe the project, ensuring full transparency. Powdered insecticides and herbicides were collected into 85-gallon fiber drums and sealed with lids, and sent for incineration. Liquid insecticides and herbicides, contained in their original 5-gallon containers, were re-packed into leak proof, DOT approved plastic Gaylord boxes. Dr. Bell’s team also removed two 55-gallon drums of fungicide that contained a toxic Organomercury compound, which was incinerated through a vapor capture system to ensure Mercuric vapors were safely neutralized. Finally, left over farm machine oil and lubricants were sent to an alternative fuel blending recycling facility. The DNR approved Dr. Bell’s handling of the project and observed no evidence of leakage or spillage, or rainwater dripping on any of the hazardous waste material which could potentially contaminate groundwater. His team swept up the barn, vacuumed, and celebrated a job well done.

apple orchard article

Kathi expressed gratitude in her testimonial: “Thank you so much for all your help with removing the old chemicals from my inherited apple farm in Morenci, Michigan.  You and your team performed in a very professional manner and put my mind at ease. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you to anyone I know that may need this service. Your care and concern for me, a Senior Citizen, was very comforting since I had no idea what to do.  Thank you again for doing this for me.”

According to Dr. Bell, “We frequently work with legacy agricultural operations throughout the country that are family owned. The family members want to do the right thing with the hazardous materials they find but have no idea where to begin. We understand the empathy required to work with these families and the need for cost-effective solutions. We also understand hazardous waste compliance at the local, state, and federal level. Ultimately, it’s about bringing all interest groups together to protect our communities and protect our planet.”

Dr. Bell called weeks after the project to follow up with Kathi to ensure closure of the project. His final question? “How was the hip surgery?”

(Case Study prepared by Roy Wimer)

Photo Credit: Mexicanwave via Compfight cc & State Line Observer

Disposal of hazardous waste doesn’t have to be painful.