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Narcotics Bureau Partners With Covanta Energy and the City of Tulsa for Safe Prescription Drug Disposal

TULSA, Okla., July 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) is partnering with the City of Tulsa and Covanta WBH, the owner/operator of the Energy-from-Waste facility in Tulsa to safely dispose of prescription drugs collected throughout the state.  Since March 1, 2011, through the Safe Trip for Scripts Program, OBN has distributed nearly one-hundred (100) permanent drug disposal metal containers in police and sheriff department lobbies for the public to safely dispose of prescription drugs in their homes and medicine cabinets. To date, the agency has collected nearly one (1) ton of old, expired medication from the disposal containers.  OBN Spokesman Mark Woodward says it's critical to get these drugs out of the home.

"Prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic in Oklahoma. It's unnecessary and unsafe to leave outdated drugs in the house.  Old, expired medications left in the home can be targeted by users.  Teenagers also target their parent's current or expired prescription drugs to abuse, trade or sell in order to obtain alcohol, marijuana or other drugs."
---Mark Woodward, OBN Spokesman  

OBN has developed a partnership agreement with Covanta Energy to safely destroy the drugs collected from the disposal containers. Through their Prescription for Safety Program (Rx4Safety), Covanta provides the safe disposal of medications collected by drug take-back programs free of charge to communities nationwide. Rx4Safety was launched in 2010 as a solution to help communities keep medications out of our nation's waterways and drinking water, as well as to help with the problem of abuse.

"Covanta is proud to provide this medication destruction service free of charge for Oklahoma citizens and the residents of Tulsa. Energy-from-Waste facilities like Covanta WBH produce sustainable and clean, renewable energy from everyday municipal solid waste and can provide a safe way to dispose of unwanted medication. Covanta EfW facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art combustion controls and air pollution control equipment to ensure the destruction of these drugs in an environmentally sound manner, one that protects the water we depend upon day in and day out and ensures that unwanted drugs are not available for abuse."
---Matt Newman, Covanta Director, Business Management

The Covanta Energy-from-Waste facility processes all of the City of Tulsa's municipal solid waste into clean, renewable energy. At the Covanta facility, the collected medications will be combusted at high temperatures to ensure their complete destruction, unlike other methods of disposal that can contaminate water sources.

When flushed down the drain, or disposed of in landfills, medications find their way into waterways and contaminate surface waters. These drugs cannot be removed from water supplies at typical waste water treatment plants and the contaminated water can then have negative effects on aquatic organisms, fish, and other wildlife.

OBN will enter into a contract with Covanta for this free community service. The City of Tulsa is not providing any funding for this program or incurring any costs associated with the program. Tulsa spokesman Eric Lee is happy that the Energy-from-Waste facility in Tulsa can help the entire state of Oklahoma.

"We are happy that the City of Tulsa is able to help in this important effort by hosting the sustainable destruction of these collected drugs. Our predecessors showed great foresight years ago by building the Energy-from-Waste facility, thus making this partnership possible. Collaborations like this are important steps in solving the problems associated with unwanted pharmaceuticals and medication. Five locations are provided in Tulsa for citizens who want to discard any medications."
---Eric Lee, City of Tulsa Solid Waste Services Manager

OBN will deliver armed escorted shipments to the Covanta Energy facility in Tulsa for the destruction of the drugs.  OBN and Covanta staff will monitor every step in the shipment, drop-off and destruction of the materials.

OBN Director R. Darrell Weaver calls it a win-win situation.

"At the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics we continuously strive to make our processes the most efficient and effective with positive results for our state. This is an incredible partnership between OBN and Covanta. To think that we are going to be able to dispose of unwanted prescription medications and convert that to usable, clean energy is incredible. This will support our state wide prescription take-back program which is the first of its kind in the nation."  
---OBN Director R. Darrell Weaver

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has a list of the disposal container locations on its web site at  Woodward says the list will be continually updated as the permanent locations are established throughout the summer.  

SOURCE Covanta Energy
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