Department collects up to 1,000 pounds of chemicals for free
By JOHN O'CONNELL
AMERICAN FALLS, Idaho -- The Idaho State Department of Agriculture hasn't investigated a case of illegal dumping of farm chemicals in more than a decade.
The reason is the agency's annual free farm chemical disposal program, according to Victor Mason II, agriculture program manager with the ISDA Division of Agricultural Resources.
"That shows everyone is doing what they're supposed to with this material. It has brought (illegal dumping) almost to zero," Mason said.
ISDA brought the collection service to the American Falls Landfill on Oct. 1 and was scheduled to be at the Burley Bureau of Land Management Yard on Oct. 2, the Twin Falls Canal Co. on Oct. 3 and Pickles Butte Landfill in Nampa on Oct. 4.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at each stop, the department takes the first 1,000 pounds of herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and rodenticides from each participant for free. Fertilizer, micronutrients, paints, solvents, pressurized containers and motor oil aren't accepted.
In September, ISDA also offered collections in Rexburg, Idaho Falls, Blackfoot and Preston, preceded by spring collections in Gooding, Mountain Home, Pickles Butte, Weiser, Grangeville, Lewiston, Coeur d'Alene and Bonners Ferry.
ISDA contracts with Clean Harbors to collect and pack the chemicals for incineration in Utah. Mason said the department had enough funding this season to expand the number of collection dates and hopes to also offer an expanded program next year.
The program, which started in 1993, has safely disposed of 1.2 million pounds of old, unwanted or unlabeled chemicals. This season, the program has disposed of more than 70,000 pounds of chemicals, including about 21,000 pounds in American Falls.
George Robinson, Division of Agricultural Resources administrator, said about $288,000 in department funding was dedicated for the program this season.
"We have been trying to increase that over the years," Robinson said. "If we can get savings in other areas, we have a tendency of using it for pesticide disposal."
This season, Mason said the department is also bringing its chipper truck to each collection site. The truck chips spent pesticide containers for recycling as drain field pipes, pallets and other products. Pesticide manufacturers help finance ISDA's chipping program, which recycles about 100,000 pounds of containers annually. Mason believes the program prevents illegal burning of the containers.
Kevin Kelley, with the experimental research farm AgraServ in American Falls, said his business holds its waste chemicals for the disposal day throughout the year.
"Some of these chemicals are experimental chemicals and we have to document what we've done with them," Kelley said.
Bingham Cooperative typically brings a small load. This year, however, cooperative officials came with six containers, each holding 250 gallons of water, cleaning chemicals and pesticide residue from cleaning equipment and facilities after acquiring a competing fertilizer company.
"This allowed us to clean our facilities and dispose of it in the proper way," said Wyatt Croft, Bingham Cooperative operations manager. "There isn't another avenue to easily get rid of some of this waste."