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Sign-ups required for pesticide dump day

Unused bags of weed killers. How do you dispose of them?

Pesticide collection sites in Prosser, Toppenish and Yakima will be accepting old and unusable pesticides for disposal, according Rod Baker of the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Residents, farmers, business owners and public agencies will be able to dispose of old or unusable agricultural and commercial grade pesticides without paying hazardous waste disposal fees, according to Baker.

A disposal site will be open in Yakima April 20, Toppenish April 21 and Prosser April 22. Organizers have not yet determined where the Toppenish drop-off site will be, but those in the Yakima area will be able to drop off pesticides at the Terrace Heights landfill. The WSU extension station in Prosser will be used as a drop-off site for Lower Valley residents.

Those wanting to participate in the free service need to sign up by March 8, according to Baker. Walk-in customers will not be served.

Pesticides that will be accepted by the WSDA include insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides and chemicals that kill, repel or prevent unwanted pests. Empty containers and other waste such as fertilizer, motor oil and household hazardous waste will not be accepted.

According to Baker, the WSDA will provide large clear plastic bags for participants who have containers or bags that are leaking.

"We even have plastic bags for drums," he said. "We're getting stuff that's decades old. Metal containers get old and will corrode."

Since the program started in 1988, about 1.5 million pounds of pesticides have been collected across Washington state.

Baker described the pesticide program, which sets up collection sites annually in agricultural communities such as Wenatchee, Puyallup, and Yakima, as a "traveling road show."

Nineteen collection sites will be set up, primarily in Eastern Washington, between March and June.

Baker said when bringing the pesticides to the disposal sites, participants have to submit an inventory form listing the pesticides being left.

"We'll even take small amounts of unknown pesticides," said Baker. He said they will take up to five pound containers of unknown pesticides.

According to Joe Hoffman, WSDA disposal program coordinator, leaky containers or improper pesticide disposal may create serious health problems for humans and animals, contaminate drinking water supplies or cause significant environmental damage. It is also costly and difficult to clean up contaminated soil.

"We hope to reach new property owners who may find barrels, bottles or cans of unknown substances left behind by the previous owner," said Hoffman. "A mystery container with unknown contents may be the most hazardous feature of your new property, especially if you have curious children or the container is leaking. We will help to identify the contents and, if it is a pesticide, we will arrange to have it removed at no cost.

Once pesticides are taken into the WSDA's possession, the state department is responsible for them.

For more information or to participate in the disposal day contact the WSDA, (360) 902-2056 or (877) 301-4555.

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