By Jim Shilander
San Clemente will redouble efforts to educate residents on guidelines for disposal of prescription drugs.
Assistant City Engineer Tom Bonigut told the council that the effect of prescription drugs on the environment was considered an “emerging concern,” by the state, due to the amount that was regularly flushed into the city sewer system. The system cannot break down prescriptions, Bonigut said, meaning that expired prescriptions were regularly finding their way out into the ocean.
Bonigut noted, however, that regulations currently allow for residents to put prescriptions in the trash, and that the city offered regular drop off events. These outlets, as well as the potential cost of the drop box, led city staff to conclude that the best option for the city at the moment was to encourage residents to throw the prescriptions away, rather than flushing them. The city would be redoubling efforts to educate the public on these issues, he said.
Council member Lori Donchak noted that Dana Point had set up a prescription drug drop box in December, and that it might be worth seeing how effective it was. If it had been effective, as it had been in the city of Claremont, she noted, then it might be worth putting a drop box in a secure location, such as the sheriff’s department offices.
She also noted that regulations called for special procedures for disposing of drugs in the trash to keep animals or children from finding and consuming them, such as mixing them with coffee grounds or mustard.
Mayor Bob Baker said that as far as he was concerned, having the option of putting the pills a landfill was sufficient.
“If the landfill says it’s okay to put them in the landfill, let’s make it easy for people to keep them out of the ocean,” Baker said.
The council agreed to revisit the issue in six months when information could be gathered from Dana Point.