Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Friday, February 19, 1999

Packing foam should be
disposed of in the trash

I need to dispose of a lot of water soluble packing foam, which I understand has been made to be environmentally conscious. Is it safe enough to shoot down with water in our yard and have it dissolve? Is it safe to put in the sink or tub and run water over it? What is the best way to dispose of it?

The best way is to just get rid of it as solid waste -- meaning in your trash, said James Baginski, regulatory control branch chief for the city Department of Environmental Services.

State health officials weren't familiar with the product and Baginski said he couldn't really comment on it without knowing what the foam is made of.

But, "Everyone is concerned about liability," he said. "So, if a person calls up and says, 'Hey, I've got this stuff that says it's OK to dump down the drain, can I do it?', if you were going to take the liability, would you say, 'Sure?' "

As a general rule, his office advises people to look at material safety data sheets typically attached to a product. That obviously doesn't apply in your case, but those sheets will indicate a recommended way of disposal.

"Unfortunately, most of these sheets say dispose in accordance with local regulations," Baginski said. That means you have to be familiar with state and city laws.

On the city side, you can call his office, but "we would have to look at the (material safety data sheets) to make some kind of a determination," he said.

But even if the office were to say "it does not appear that it would cause a problem in itself, everyone would still be liable, if they discharge it, for compliance with the ordinances," he said.

So, going back to the short answer: "We like to minimize discharge to the sewer as much as possible and reserve it for regular sanitary uses," Baginski said. "We prefer people going to solid waste with it, if possible, rather than wetting it down and dissolving something, as long as it complies with solid waste regulations."


Why is there no sign on the H-3 Freeway stating that the Pearl City exit is closed? I ended up going to Pearl Harbor to turn around. There should be a sign saying use the Halawa exit.

There is no sign saying the Pearl City exit is closed because that exit sign is supposed to "be covered during construction so people would not go the wrong way," said state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Marilyn Kali.

Based on your complaint, someone checked the sign and found that, "during heavy winds a week and a half ago, winds blew the covering off the sign," she said on Wednesday.

The contractor was asked to recover the sign "so it won't happen again," Kali said.



To the Kailua High students on the Kailua-Sea Life Park (No. 57) bus on Tuesday, Feb. 2. When the bus stopped to pick up some elderly people, all the students got up to give them their seats. One lady said no, she was getting off the bus soon, but no one wanted to sit down until she got off. They made my day. It showed that we have lots of wonderful students in this world and they still respect their elders. -- Priscilla K. Ho, Kupuna


Wait, it's not weight!

A couple of readers called to say the answer regarding a pint of yogurt (Kokua Line, Feb. 17) was confusing because it said if someone was selling something by weight, then one pint is equal to 16 liquid ounces. A pint does equal 16 liquid ounces, but that's a measurement of volume, not weight. As one reader said, "It does not matter what it weighs. A pint of lead or a pint of feathers is still a pint," he said.

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to kokualine@starbulletin.com

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