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Environment: County tries to keep household hazards out of landfill

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

A steady stream of cars and trucks pulled through the parking lot at Palmetto Ace Hardware. Midway Fire and Rescue crews and staff from Georgetown County Environmental Services treated each one as if it was toxic.

In four hours Saturday, they had removed 6.2 tons of household hazardous waste. It was the second largest collection since the program began four years ago, said James Coley, the county environmentalist. He hopes the collections will eventually reach a plateau. “We hope people won’t have hazardous materials in their home,” he said. “There are safer solutions.”

The twice-annual community collections are for items that can’t legally go in household trash. “We know it happens,” Coley said. The landfill is designed to collect hazards that leach through the soil, but the goal is to collect and recycle them before that happens.

“We continue to bring in more and more,” Coley said. The biggest item is paint. The county recycles and resells latex paint in 5-gallon batches.

Other items are cataloged according to their active ingredients and stored until there is enough material for a contractor to pick up for recycling. “We get all kinds of stuff that’s outdated and can’t be sold anymore,” Coley said. “It sits until people decide to get rid of it.” Some can’t even be identified. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is considered flammable and toxic.

Until the next household hazards collection in the spring, items should be taken to the county landfill off Highway 51 west of Georgetown. “Don’t take it to the convenience center, and don’t try to hide it in the trash,” Coley said.

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