Illegal drugs seized by the Carson City Sheriff’s Office will meet their demise in a new incinerator about 3 miles from the city center.
For years, two on-the-clock deputies in an unmarked car escorted the methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs that turned up here to their final resting place: an incinerator operated by the California Department of Agriculture in Hallelujah Junction, Calif., 50 miles away. Many other Nevada law enforcement agencies haul drugs to Utah to be destroyed, Sheriff Ken Furlong said.
The Environmental Protection Agency requires the incinerator’s operator to purchase a license, and the Sheriff’s Office was pushing Agriculture to its legal capacity limits, Furlong said.
“You can only burn certain amounts per your license,” he said. “We started looking for an alternative.”
The solution came in the form of a $104,000 short-term grant from the Office of Criminal Justice Assistance, which is part of the state Department of Public Safety. Kathie Heath, chief financial officer for Sheriff’s Office, secured it in February. The total cost of bringing the incinerator online is $51,000; the remaining grant money is paying for equipment and other expenses.
Crews tested the incinerator Thursday, and the Sheriff’s Office likely will use it about once a week after that, Furlong said. He added that city Utility Manager David Bruketta played a big role in getting the incinerator in line with EPA standards.
“The licensing only permits a certain level of particulate into the air; we have to stay within that specification,” Furlong said.
Bruketta said the EPA granted the permit late last week and wasn’t sure of the exact cost, adding that it was “a couple of hundred dollars.”
The emission limit for the dual-chamber incinerator is 0.483 pound per hour, Heath said. It has a steel door, an internal gas tank and a fuel tank and is down the street from Animal Services.
The Sheriff’s Office’s license allows it to incinerate up to 2,000 pounds of drugs in a year. What ashes remain can be safely disposed of at the landfill, Furlong said.
“You’re not polluting the water or the air,” Heath said. “We were really careful to get one with a secondary chamber. That burns the burns.
People now can drop off unused and unwanted prescription drugs in a recently installed metal box in the lobby at the Sheriff’s Office headquarters.
There are public-safety and environmental reasons for the change, Furlong said.
“You had this issue of people disposing of meds down the water,” he said. “That’s an inappropriate disposal. Those drugs go through the sewage-treatment plant and end up in our water supply.”
The Sheriff’s Office and Partnership Carson City teamed up to add the disposal box.