Disposing of nickel acetate and copper acetate solution
March 11, 2017
Q. We have 5 gallons of Copper acetate solution and the same amount of nickel acetate. We would like to dispose of these, and would appreciate recommendations.
It has been suggested to us to allow the solution to evaporate in large pans then scrape the residue and dispose in landfill or burn in hi temp furnace.
Any thoughts or better suggestions? The City officials tell us to flush down the drain which seems strange. Apparently the solution does not raise red flags in their list of bad liquids and such.
- Kansas City
A. Hi Jose. Two different factors affect what you can/must do with waste products. The first factor, as you already understand, is what the waste product is. But the second factor is where the waste product came from (what kind of operation generated it or it was used in). Perfectly innocuous wastes, let alone wastes containing heavy metals, may be "categorically" regulated. For example, a plating shop cannot discharge any of their waste without a permit, even hypothetical final rinsewater which could so dilute as to be drinkable :-)
If you work for a school, it is perhaps possible that the city officials are right; if you are a shop with an electroplating operation, they are wrong, and their ignorance may not be an excuse for you, especially if you don't have it in writing. Legally, the best course of action is to call a licensed waste hauler, and have the waste manifested and properly disposed of.
There used to be "industrial waste exchanges" in large metro areas like yours, which could take your waste product and connect it with potential users. You can look to see if there is one, but I think the EPA's ruling that "the generator is responsible for the waste forever" torpedoed that effort towards sustainability. I look into the subject periodically but only find broken links and white papers from the 80s & earlier -- so I would be happy to be updated if any industrial waste exchanges are still alive within the US.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
March 13, 2017
A. Nickel acetate is used in sealing dyed anodized coatings. You might contact an aluminium finisher.
Copper acetate is used in some solutions for the antiquing of brass and bronze. Some artist or sculptor might want it.
Consultant - The Bronx, New York