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CHEMICALS, TEXTBOOKS THROWN AWAY ACID DUMPED BY SCHOOL WORKERS.

Byline: DANA BARTHOLOMEW Staff Writer

LAKE BALBOA -- Workers at a Los Angeles Unified School District administration building dumped hazardous waste into a trash bin destined for Sunshine Canyon Landfill, officials acknowledged Wednesday.

Bottles of corrosive hydrochloric acid were tossed into a bin at District 1 headquarters, along with other chemicals from leftover science kits. The trash also included computer gear and dozens of brand-new stopwatches, scientific materials and environmental textbooks that included chapters on ``comparing garbage'' and ``investigating sanitary landfills.''

``Hydrochloric acid -- jeez, that's nasty stuff,'' said one high school teacher, who asked not to be identified.

``Why did they throw this in here?'' he asked while peering into the trash bin at the rear of the district's Balboa Boulevard complex.

Several teachers phoned the Daily News after seeing maintenance workers toss the materials -- including at least three one-liter bottles of hydrochloric acid -- into the trash bin at 11:30 a.m. Workers removed much of the waste several hours later, after questions by a reporter.

Hydrochloric acid, also known as muriatic acid, is corrosive to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Acute exposure can cause severe burns, scarring and other ailments.

The EPA deems hydrochloric acid a hazardous waste.

District 1 officials said the opened and unopened bottles of hydrochloric acid, ethyl alcohol and calcium hydroxide included in unused seventh-grade science kits were thrown out by someone in the nearby Sciences Resource Laboratory.

On the front of the Allied Waste Inc. trash bin was a sign, ``No hazardous waste accepted.''

``It's not a regular occurrence,'' Dea Tramble, an operations coordinator for District 1, said of the dumping. ``It came from the Science Center -- it must have been someone who didn't know.''

Tramble said the materials weren't explosive or dangerous, but should not have been there. Sunshine Canyon Landfill officials said chemicals such as hydrochloric acid are ``absolutely not'' permitted at the Granada Hills dump. Any hazardous materials sent to Sunshine Canyon is moved to other sites.

``All of our customers know what they should or should not put in our containers -- particularly if it was the school district,'' said Greg Loughnane, district manager for Sunshine Canyon Landfill. ``It's not allowed. Anyone who runs a lab knows you're supposed to have hazardous waste carriers.''

Loughnane said he will consult with the school district on the proper disposal of hazardous waste.

Wednesday, teachers just shook their heads at the bounty of textbooks, stopwatches, Web cams, overhead scanners and other unused items deposited in the bin. One book on materials science, published by the University of California at Berkeley, asks students: ``Are you concerned about the effects of hazardous materials on the environment?''

``It's unbelievable,'' said another teacher, pawing through the refuse. ``At (my) school, you can't get supplies -- pens, printer cartridges. We can't get paper in the classroom -- nothing.''

dana.bartholomew(at)dailynews.com

(818) 713-3730

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1) LAUSD staff members pull items from a trash bin at District 1 headquarters next to Birmingham High School in Lake Balboa that contained brand new teaching materials, new stopwatches and some hazardous chemicals destined for the Sunshine Canyon Landfill in Granada Hills.

(2) Some of the items found in a trash bin outside Birmingham High School and LAUSD District 1 headquarters included bottles of hydrochloric acid, considered a hazardous material.

John Lazar/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 11, 2006
Words:563
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