Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station officials had to put the kibosh on a hazardous waste bin in front of its headquarters on Golden Valley Road due to widespread community abuse of the free program, officials said Thursday.
While the program was intended for residents who might have medical waste, such as needles or “sharps,” disposable means for taking certain medicines that can pierce the skin, its popularity proved problematic, posing a public health risk, according to station Capt. Justin Diez.
The Sheriff’s Station provided a free bin meant for personal disposal. However, local medical facilities would try to take advantage of the free disposal, Diez said, dropping their waste off there instead of paying for a waste-disposal service to properly, and legally, dispose of their sharps.
And these facilities were bringing containers of sharps, sometimes that looked like they were essentially being stored in trash bags and dropping them off at the foot of the bin, according to Diez.
“The bin was right next to the front door of the station and we’re releasing all of our suspects out the front door of the station,” Diez said, explaining the concern. “We’ve got people including children coming in and out of the station at all hours of the day and the biggest problem is that our employee would have to take the sharps that were on the ground, remove the empty needles from them and put them in the bin where they belong.”
What started out as a nice resource for mom and pop to be able to safely dispose of sharps waste became a potential hazard because it was being misused, he added.
After citing the concerns and making the removal request through L.A. County — which was supporting the medical-waste bins as part of the Public Works program CleanLA — county officials removed the bins on Friday and replaced them with resources for proper disposal.
A sandwich board in front of the station Thursday proclaimed, “PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE SHARPS WASTE HERE” and underneath, “Doing so will be considered illegal dumping.”
A county official confirmed Thursday the bins were removed last week, and information was left in its place with resources for medical waste disposal.
A QR code on the sign directs people to dpw.lacounty.gov/epd/hhw/Sharps, where more information about the proper means for disposal of medical sharps is available. More information is also available at CleanLA.com.