Porter County Sheriff's Department


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Machine to Destroy Hazardous Materials

Three counties buy machine to destroy hazardous materials

August 27, 2008

By Jane Huh Post-Tribune staff writer

 

Porter County's bomb squad can now obliterate hazardous items including explosives with a new vessel.

A Thermal Destruction Unit landed in Porter County's lap about four months ago after the county, with funding assistance from LaPorte and Lake counties pitched in for the $28,000 purchase.

Officials were eager to flaunt the mobile machine Tuesday with a demonstration of how the vessel operated. It's the first locally owned hazardous incinerator in Northwest Indiana, said Therese Davis, executive director of the Recycling and Waste Reduction district of Porter County.

Similar to the noise of a popcorn maker, the machine made loud pops while it burned hundreds of bullets inside for about 10 minutes at extremely high temperatures.

The vessel can destroy up to 2,000 bullets in one burn, said Lt. Chris Eckert.

Before, it usually took eight hours to burn the dangerous materials, Eckert said.

But with the new thermal destruction vessel burns "several hundred pounds of materials in two hours with minimal residue," he said.

The process is now much more efficient. It takes fewer workers and less time to destroy the dangerous materials such as ammunition, explosive compounds, narcotics and prescription drugs.

These materials come from a variety of sources, including law enforcement investigations, police departments that clean out outdated weapons and residents.

The counties had to wait for a mobile collection unit to come to the area for disposal.

And during the wait, the sheriff's department stored the dangerous products, which posed a safety issue, Eckert said.

The Lake Michigan Districts Household Hazardous Waste Program, which comprises Lake, LaPorte and Porter counties is one of the key supporters. Lake County paid for 52 percent, Porter County paid for 20 percent and LaPorte County paid for 28 percent of the funding, said Tom Buford, the districts' household hazardous waste coordinator. While the three counties own the unit, it's housed in Porter County because it's the only county with a bomb squad.

 

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