View Full Version : Proper Disposal

22-Apr-2010, 06:14
Hey guys, hope this is the right place to post this. Wonder if someone can answer a question for me. I work for an x-ray repair service in Ohio. We service film processors and supply the chemicals. In the back of our warehouse we have a couple of pallets of old expired chemistry. Fixer and developer. Can I just dump these old chemicals down the drain or could I just dump it in the weeds next to our warehouse? Would this be a problem or do we have to pay someone to dispose of these chemicals? Thanks for any info!

Peter Galea
22-Apr-2010, 06:35
Down the drain or in the weeds....I don't think so, I hope you're kidding.
What's your company policy on disposal, you must
have a permit as a hazardous waste generator, no?
Contact the county health department, they'll
have an answer for you.

David de Gruyl
22-Apr-2010, 07:13
So will the EPA, and I am pretty sure the MSDS attached to those pallets should say it, too.

The answer is: you need to have a hazardous waste disposal company handle it. Used fixer contains heavy metals, and the fixer itself is not exactly good for either people of the environment. Developer is merely bad for people and the environment.

(Plus, if you were to dump it, the EPA would fine your company quite a lot of money).

22-Apr-2010, 16:21
More information is needed before we can make an intelligent response to the original question. Also, I would urge people to go easy on someone making a first post here. Let's welcome him before we talk about dire consequences...

The original poster said "expired", not "used", so before we all jump on the post, perhaps it would be good to find out if he means expired as in old and unused, or expired as in used up and loaded with silver.

Used up developer is be less an issue than used up fixer if his materials are indeed used. Fixer loads up with silver from film, and silver does have notable environmental consequences. It is not a crisis though. The silver can be reclaimed from used fix. Reclaimed silver then can be sold so that the overall cost is reduced. Especially if there is a lot of silver laden fix involved. After the silver is removed, the remaining fix generally is pretty benign. Many various threads here and at apug.org deal with silver removal at length. There are silver reclamation devices he could purchase and use, or services he could hire that help remove silver.

If it is pallets of old and unused, are they liquids or powder? What formula / name? Maybe a few people here might be interested in trying some.

If used, how large a quantity of liquids are we talking about? Pallets makes it sound like quite a bit, but am I right on that?

David de Gruyl
22-Apr-2010, 17:05
I will admit that certain buzzwords got the better of me: namely Warehouse and Pallets. That brings the amount up, considerably, in my mind. Especially since I work in the process industry. (not photography, chemicals).

You are right to ask about the nature of the chemicals. They could be very benign, or even powder. If in the powder form, the OP could probably find an outlet here and on APUG. I doubt that anything in liquid form would be usable, though, unless it is highly concentrated.

In any case, pallets should have an MSDS associated with them (or on file) and which should state clearly what the chemical nature is. From there you can determine the environmental impact.

On the other hand: I do no consider hypo to be non-toxic. Any reactive sulfur containing compound (and I can't think of any that are not) will give off H2S or SOx given half a chance. If the fixer is not oxidized yet, then it will have an environmental impact.

Remember, he publicly stated what and where the company is, and what his intent is. I would recommend following through with the details of disposal. My county government provided a service for chemical disposal to residents, and charges for the same service for companies. I suspect that the same can be found in Ohio.

Robert Hughes
22-Apr-2010, 20:46
...if you were to dump it, the EPA would fine your company quite a lot of money.
True. Don't mess around when Federal law applies. I was in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission/Americans with Disabilities Act informational meeting today; the fines and damage (http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/3-15-00.cfm)s levied against non-compliant employers are severe (firing or refusing to hire a disabled worker without appropriate cause can cost much more than keeping him - and the gov't may decide to make a very public example of your misfortune).

Sascha Welter
23-Apr-2010, 02:14
I suspect a troll.

Mike Tobias
23-Apr-2010, 02:26
Another thing that no one has mentioned, as far as I know fixer cannot "expire" (it can be "depleted" or "exhausted" when used). If anyone knows otherwise please correct me, but the containers of fixer (dry and wet) that I've received over the years has an expiration date, and I've used some over 10 years old with no ill effects. Fixer is usually sodium thiosulfate or ammonium thiosulfate, which (as far as I know) do not degrade over time. Or am I mistaken?


23-Apr-2010, 05:51
Hey guys,
Thanks for all the response's . First off I'm not a troll. As far as the pallets and quantity goes, I'm talking about probably 30 boxes per pellet with each box having two one gallon bottles in it (plus two little bottles). This chemistry has neverbeen used. As I understand it, it was bought for a customer who then stopped using it for some reason. It has sat in the back of the warehouse for probably 10 years. Some boxes are seeping. My boss told me to dump it down the sewer but I didn't think that was right. He then told me to dump it in the weeds, that it was bio-degradable. I don't know about that. I'm just stalling doing it till I find out some ramifications. If I would dump it in the weeds and got caught, I know my boss would lie and say he never told me to do that. When this issue first came up about these chemicals I told him why not just get a company to pick it up and dispose of it. He said "What would you rather me do, pay a company to haul this away or pay your wages ?" I can take a hint. Jobs are hard to find nowadays. See why I'm asking for suggestions? The guy is a jerk. That is the rest of the story:)

23-Apr-2010, 06:36

You are right, your boss is a jerk. In any event, he has put you in a tough spot. Anyone who says otherwise is either safely and gainfully employed or retired like myself. I did find this Kodak document. Perhaps it will help you make your decision. Best of luck.


Gem Singer
23-Apr-2010, 07:02

Bring this matter to the attention of the EPA. Do not dump these chemicals into the water supply. It is a serious crime, and your boss knows it.

If you dump these chemicals, it is very likely that the EPA will eventually trace the spill back to it's origin.

Your boss will be held responsible, and possibly be forced to close his business. One way, or another you will be out of a job.

The EPA will help you dispose of the chemicals safely, and you will be able to look yourself in the eye without feeling guilty.

John T
23-Apr-2010, 07:05
Also, if you dump them, you may be considered party to the illegal dumping even though your boss told you to do it (although if prosecuted, you could be used as a witness against your boss-still I personally would not prefer to be arrested in the first place).

23-Apr-2010, 07:33
hi harvey

sorry about your situation ...
there was a guy ( and his wife ) who
dumped chemistry like this in PA and they were thrown in jail
and fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.

contact a waste hauler.

Robert Hughes
23-Apr-2010, 09:48
Your boss asked you to "deal with it"? Try testing some of the expired chemicals with x-ray film; if they're still good perhaps you can sell them at a discount to your customers, or to us cash-strapped LF photographers. If the containers are partially damaged, maybe you could repackage into new bottles or sell off the clean, non-leaking stock to cover the costs of hauling the rest away.

As a CYA move, you might send your boss an email with a link to this thread, or to Google: "EPA fines and penalties (http://www.google.com/search?q=epa+fines+and+penalties&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a)" to let him know the potential for serious consequences. Having a record of your actions may be useful if things get nasty. Or (if he insists you dump it all) take pictures and chemical names, then walk right over to the local DNR (http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/tabid/21817/Default.aspx) or EPA (http://www.epa.gov/) office to ask their assistance. Perhaps they have funds available for preventative abatement (http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/tabid/8856/Default.aspx). Who knows, if your stock is deemed not too harmful to the local sewer system the EPA might even grant you a variance to dump diluted chemicals down the drain in several small batches over the course of a few days. Then it's all legal and above board, you look good, and your boss is happy he's not liable for those old chemicals.

He may decide to fire you, but based on your description of what's going on he may do that eventually anyway. About 5% of the population is always made up of a--holes and self-centered jerks. Learn to spot them and get away, for your own sanity.

25-Apr-2010, 05:55
Hey guys, thanks for all your replies. I told that jerk that I wasn't dumping anything and if he wanted to fire me over that go ahead but I will contact a lawyer and the epa on his ass. He was probably dirty on a lot of things and don't want to open a can of worms so he back off me. He said he will contact a waste hauler about taking it away. Thanks again fellows!:)