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Barrels of hazardous pesticides owned by Amherst were being packed Wednesday for removal from a Highland Avenue warehouse and disposal at a hazardous waste site.

David Brooks, city environmental services manager, said workers for a waste disposal firm began packing the barrels about 10 a.m. at the HDC Distribution Co. warehouse, 3123 Highland Ave. The job should take about three days, he said.

"We are very happy to see the stuff go," Brooks said. "We wanted it out immediately, but because it was hazardous waste, it had to be characterized" before it could be moved.

Amherst Councilman Lawrence Southwick Jr. said it took the town some time to obtain the proper state permits for the removal of the barrels, which contain pesticides the town uses for mosquito spraying.

He said the barrels will be taken to "a regular disposal site; they won't be used." He added that the job is being done by Chemical Waste Management of Porter, a licensed hauler and disposer.

He said the insecticides normally are not hazardous but have been classified as such because they got wet during storage. The town has been storing the insecticides at the warehouse for the past few years because of criticism about storing them in the highway garage, Southwick said.

"Now we're ordering smaller batches and using it as we get it, which means we'll end up paying more," he said.

He said it cost the town about $55,000 -- more than the chemicals' original cost -- for the testing, removal and disposal of the insecticides stored at HDC.

Brooks said he first noticed the barrels during an inspection of the warehouse in June.

Subsequently, the warehouse owner, John Hashem, 55, of Gasport was charged with unlawful possession of hazardous waste material, but the charge was dismissed in part because of the city's failure to provide proper sampling records to the court.

Of the 50 55-gallon barrels found in the warehouse in June, 29 were considered hazardous because their packaging and contents were damaged, according to Amherst Town Attorney James M. Nesper. The undamaged, non-hazardous barrels contained the same chemicals.

The town has removed about a dozen of the non-hazardous barrels to the Town Highway garage.

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