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Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Flushed drugs are immune to wastewater treatment

By KELLEY WALKER PERRY
kwperry@shelbynews.com


Drugs in the natural water supply are a problem that is beginning to bubble to the surface.

The issue, according to Noell Krughoff, Director of the Shelby County Solid Waste Management District, has become a hot topic.

Members of the District on Tuesday approved the county’s involvement in a statewide project to eradicate this problem: Eliminate Expired Drugs Environmentally, or EEDE.

Traces of antibiotics and other medications can be found in the natural water supply and are a common household health and safety concern.

Some trace amounts from human elimination are to be expected, Krughoff said. But wastewater treatment facilities cannot completely remove all traces of some substances — such as cancer treatment drugs.

When a loved one dies from cancer, family members believe they are doing the right thing by flushing the leftover medication into the system. But that can cause problems, Krughoff said.

Some of these chemicals damage septic systems and can release toxic chemicals into the environment when flushed down the drain.

Other controlled substances might be unwittingly thrown out in the trash. These drugs often have street value, and could easily fall into the wrong hands.

That’s the reasoning behind the board’s decision to hold a two-day collection of prescription and non-prescription drugs Sept. 23-24, as a service to the community.

In other business, the board:

Decided to move ahead with an addendum to a three-year contract with CGS Services, Inc. for the operation and maintenance of the Shelby County Solid Waste Transfer Station. This contract — actually between CGS and the Shelby County Commissioners, through the District — further enables improvements for the collection of recyclable materials at the transfer station located at 1304 N. Michigan Road.

The District will purchase compactors for paper, plastic and glass products at the recycling facility, as discussed last month; a CGS employee will sort the materials, since the company’s employees already man the transfer station.

Krughoff is to present the contract to the Commissioners.

Approved Public Education and Promotion grant expenditures recommended by the Citizens’ Advisory Committee.

Decided to sponsor an art contest for students at local schools, featuring artwork made of recyclable materials.

Discussed difficulties regarding the renewal of Director Noell Krughoff’s contract, as well as those of two employees who work at the transfer station.

Corlis Dees of Brooks Insurance Professionals attended to inform the board of pitfalls in providing workmen’s compensation insurance and possible solutions to the problems. A company will be contacted to at least temporarily give the employees coverage, until a permanent solution is found.

Heard a report from the Nuisance Compliance board.

Discussed Bears of Blue River Festival Parade float possibilities; Shelbyville native Sandy Allen, the world’s tallest woman, is to ride the District’s float this year.