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Town Collecting Unused Pharmaceuticals from Local Assisted Living Facilities

June 23, 2015
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Town Collecting Unused Pharmaceuticals from Local Assisted Living Facilities
Covanta of Westbury providing free disposal

North Hempstead, NY – Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth and the Town’s Office of Sustainability are making the disposal of unused and outdated pharmaceuticals easy for seniors living in three local assisted living facilities this month, as the Town introduces a new initiative to provide pharmaceuticals collections and free incineration to senior facilities. The Town has scheduled pickups at three local senior living facilities for June 19. Other senior and assisted living facilities will be scheduled for September and November.

The initiative is funded by a State grant that was secured by Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Riverkeeper as part of an effort to protect our waterways and to prevent the drugs from falling into the wrong hands by expanding access to safe pharmaceutical disposal. When flushed down the drain or disposed of in landfills, medications enter waterways and contaminate surface waters, having an adverse effect on drinking water and the environment. Typical waste water treatment plants and septic systems are not designed to remove drugs from drinking water, resulting in a negative impact upon aquatic organisms, fish and other wildlife when these pharmaceuticals are disposed of improperly.

“This new initiative will reach a segment of the population that otherwise might have difficulty accessing a safe and convenient method of disposing of their unused medications,” said Supervisor Bosworth. “By working cooperatively with local senior facilities, we can greatly reduce the amount of pharmaceuticals getting into our waterways.”

The collection of the pharmaceuticals will be done by the Town’s Office of Sustainability and Solid Waste Management Authority, with support by the Nassau County Police and will be delivered to Covanta in Westbury for incineration. Covanta provides free disposal of medications collected at community sponsored drug take-back programs. Covanta’s Energy-from-Waste (EfW) facilities provide safe, environmentally sound destruction that protects water resources and reduces the risk of drugs reaching unauthorized users.

North Hempstead Chief Sustainability Officer Erin Reilley said, “Pharmaceutical Contamination is a growing problem for our drinking water supplies, and for our bays and harbors; the federal government found that over 40 million American’s drinking water has been contaminated with pharmaceuticals, and many of these drugs have harmful effects on fish and wildlife. We hope that Town residents understand that flushing medications, or putting them down the drain, is a dangerous way to dispose of prescription and over the counter medications.”

“Prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic in the U.S. and the Prescription for Safety (Rx4Safety) program provides people with a safe and environmentally-sound way to dispose of unwanted pharmaceuticals,” said John G. Waffenschmidt, Covanta vice president, Environmental Science and Community Affairs. “Thanks to the efforts of the Town of North Hempstead’s leaders and citizens, Covanta will be able to properly dispose of the collected pharmaceuticals, keeping these drugs out of the hands of teenagers and out of our nation’s waterways. We commend the Town of North Hempstead’s due diligence and dedication towards a healthier and safer community and environment.”

“CCE has partnered with municipalities, police precincts, nonprofits and private companies throughout New York State to implement safe, convenient and affordable options to properly dispose of unwanted pharmaceuticals. We are excited to partner with the Town of North Hempstead to address this growing need for our island. The more safe disposal options available, the less drugs will end up contaminating our waters,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Have you tuned into North Hempstead TV lately? View all of our great programming on Channels 18 or 63 on Cablevision or Channel 46 on Verizon, or visit www.myNHTV.com or www.youtube.com/townofnorthhempstead.

Left to right, Brian Palmer, Special Waste Operator for Covanta; Nassau County Police Officer Ed Philip; Nassau County Police Officer Robert Graves; Supervisor Judi Bosworth

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