I haven't heard of a way to get rid of the icon completely. What you could do, though, is to set it to "Always Hide"
Right-click the notification area, and select Properties. Under the Notification area heading, click Customize. Find the Safely Remove Hardware icon and select "Always hide" in the Behavior column next to it.
EP, glad to see you come back and tidy up...did want to ask a one day favor, I want to enhance my resume , was hoping you could make me administrator for a day, if so, take me right off since I won't be here to do anything, and don't know the slightest about the board, but it would be nice putting "served administrator osnn", if can do, THANKS