State offering free pesticides disposal to homeowners, family farms

Posted Aug. 10, 2012, at 3:49 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Several state agencies are partnering to provide homeowners a free opportunity this fall to dispose of old pesticides that may be stockpiled on their properties.

Required registration — the deadline for which is Sept. 28 — is now open for the disposal day, which gives owners of homes, family farms and greenhouses the opportunity to safely and legally get rid of pesticides that have become caked, frozen or otherwise unusable, including those that are banned in the state.

The partnering agencies are Maine’s Board of Pesticide Control, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Protection.

It’s not uncommon for new owners of older homes or farms in Maine to discover they have inherited hazardous waste in the form of pesticides, with old chemicals such as DDT, lead arsenate, 2,4,5-T and chlordane left behind in barns, basements or garages.

While disposing of these chemicals can seem daunting, it’s important for the protection of public, wildlife and environmental health that they are dealt with properly and not tossed in the trash or down the drain where they can contaminate land and water resources, including drinking water, according to a joint press release from the agencies.

“We urge people holding these chemicals to contact us immediately to register,” said BPC Public Education Specialist Paul Schlein. “There will be four sites throughout the state where pre-registered participants will be able to bring their obsolete pesticides and dispose of them conveniently and at no cost.”

The collected chemicals go to out-of-state disposal facilities licensed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency where they are incinerated or reprocessed.

Due to safety and regulatory requirements, disposal “drop-ins” are not allowed, so registration by the Sept. 28 deadline is necessary. The BPC will contact registrants several weeks prior to that drive to inform them of their local collection date and location.

To register, get additional details or learn important information about the temporary storage and transportation of obsolete pesticides, go to thinkfirstspraylast.org or call Henry Jennings, Maine Board of Pesticides Control executive director, at 287-2731.

Through their jointly sponsored disposal events — which are funded entirely through pesticide product registration fees — BPC and DEP have kept about 90 tons of pesticides out of the waste stream since 1982.

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