Bring us your tired pesticides

Some trash, you just can’t seem to get rid of: that old bottle of Bug-B-Gon with the broken spray nozzle, or a bag of Sevin dust that’s so old you can’t read the label. What’s more, some old pesticides are so hazardous that you’ve got to get a special permit just to haul them on the interstate, notes Madison County Agricultural Extension Agent Terri King.

But luckily for farmers and residents of Madison, Buncombe and Yancey counties, the N.C. Department of Agriculture is prepared to take old pesticides off your hands on Thursday, July 29 at A-B Tech’s Madison Campus, located on Highway 25/70 at Highway 213. (Transylvania County will be hosting a similar pickup day on July 28.)

This is the first such collection event held in Madison County in a decade — and the last one before the new millennium, Land-of-Sky Regional Council Environmental Planner Ron Townley points out. “In some cases, this is the only legal way to get this stuff off the farm,” says Townley. Most landfills no longer accept such materials, and dumping them or burying them is illegal.

Years ago, the state operated a program for picking up farm chemicals — but that approach proved too expensive, Townley notes.

But with a designated pickup site and day, farmers and residents can bring their old or unused pesticides to one central location, and the state will haul it away. Some materials, Townley explained, get incinerated; others find other uses (for example, some small electric-power stations are allowed to burn certain chemicals for power production).

But the main problem is disposing of them properly. Some pesticide containers have a short shelf life and eventually leak, posing a health risk, particularly to children and pets, King explains.

Providing a central pickup site helps keep these chemicals from winding up in ditches and streams, whether due to leakage or due to illegal dumping. “We want to help farmers, because they want to do the right thing. The more convenient [such programs] are, the more likely [it is that] people will do it, too,” she observes.

Ag-Extension Agent Ross Young stresses that this collection is for pesticides only. But farmers and residents from anywhere in the area can participate. “Just call me first if you’ve got a truckload of pesticides, or a substance you can’t identify,” Young requests: he needs to know beforehand.

If possible, Townley adds, participants should haul materials in their original, labeled containers. If that’s not possible, or the old container leaks, place the material in a secure container, and bring the old container or label as well. Townley recommends not using breakable containers, such as glass. And treat all materials with great care: If you’re hauling them on the back of a pickup truck, for example, make sure they’re tied down or otherwise secured for the trip.

For more information about the Madison County pickup, call Ross Young at 649-2411. For Transylvania County, call 884-3142.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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