Since 1993, the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) has been collecting unusable pesticides from Idaho's farmers, ranchers, homeowners, and pest control professionals to dispose of the chemicals properly. In the next few weeks, the department expects to eclipse 1 million pounds collected.
The department collects unusable chemicals twice yearly. Collection sites are set up in the northern and southwestern parts of the state in the spring, and in the eastern part of the state, including the Twin Falls area, in the fall. Anyone with unusable chemicals, including herbicides, rodentcides, fungicides, and insecticides can bring them to any of the four locations the department has designated for drop off.
Nampa May 10, 2010 Pickles Butte Landfill
Weiser May 11, 2010 Idaho Department of Transportation yard
Lewiston May 12, 2010 Nez Perce County Fairgrounds
Coeur d’Alene May 13, 2010 Coeur d’Alene Transfer Station
Drop-off locations will be open from 9:00 a.m. until 1:oo p.m. on designated days. Only the first 1,000 pounds of chemicals can be disposed of by the state for no charge. Chemicals can become unusable when they expire after a certain period of time, exposure to extreme temperatures, or when their use is banned by state or federal officials. Chemicals not disposed of properly can pose a health risk to humans and animals, and can be harmful to soil and water.
According to Vic Mason with the department, each round of collections costs the state between $60,000 and $70,000. Mason believes the program is worth the cost because it has led to large reductions in illegal dumping. The state, because of the free disposal program, Mason says, is experiencing an overall savings because of the substantial costs associated with cleaning up chemicals dumped illegally. When asked how many cases of illegal disposal that have been reported to the department in the last several years, Mason said "virtually none."
"It's a very beneficial program," said Mason. He said the when chemicals are dropped off with state officials, they are immediately packaged and stored according to environmental standards. Once the department finishes with all collections, chemicals are sent to be incinerated at plants approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The department asks that no fertilizers, micronutrients, paints, solvents, or motor oil be brought to chemical collection points. Officials are also requesting that those who want to participate in the free disposal program register the total poundage of chemicals they wish to bring to drop-off sites by calling their local ISDA office or the Nampa office at (208) 442-2816.