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County offers 'Waste Amnesty Day' for residents

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

This Saturday, residents will have the opportunity to dispose of dangerous materials in their homes, which could otherwise find their way into the environment or water supply.

From 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., the Clayton County Water Authority (CCWA), along with Keep Clayton County Beautiful, Inc., will sponsor Household Hazardous Waste Amnesty Day. The event will take place at The Supply Yard at 1380 Government Circle in Jonesboro, next to Rum Creek Park.

Residents with proof of Clayton County residency will be able to dispose of a plethora of dangerous chemicals, including paints, bleaches, chlorine, pesticides and herbicides, solvents and sealers, car and household batteries, drain cleaners, paint thinner, wood strippers, motor oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid, aerosols, fluorescent tubes, oven cleaners, rat poison, and insect sprays.

Non-hazardous wastes, such as cleaners, polishers, and cosmetics will also be accepted.

Kevin Osbey, the water authority's storm water utility manager, said many of these items can become a "toxic gumbo," if sent to a landfill with other household garbage.

"A lot of folks tend to collect all these items in their home ... that they really don't know how to dispose of properly," said Osbey. "You don't want to put these items into a landfill unchecked, because they can leach into our water supply."

Osbey added that Clayton County water systems are particularly at risk for contamination because -- unlike the City of Atlanta -- storm water and household sewage systems are separated. In other words, water flushed down toilets and sinks goes to the CCWA for treatment, while anything which goes down a storm drain will ultimately end up in a creek, stream, or river.

"You still have people who use our rivers here for fishing or recreational activities," said Osbey. "When people just dump these chemicals ... it really does pollute our streams."

Water authority general manager, Mike Thomas, said pouring certain chemicals down the drain upsets the water treatment process, because it kills vital bacteria used to clean the water.

"If you put it down your drain or toilet, it will go into the waste-water collection system and we will treat it, but we might not be able to remove everything," said Thomas. "Anything beyond soap and water, you have to think twice about dumping it down the drain, or outside."

Edie Yongue, director of Keep Clayton County Beautiful, Inc., said this is the third time the county has sponsored the biannual event. She encouraged people to take advantage of the service.

"It helps our citizens get rid of items that they can't necessarily get rid of any other way," said Yongue. "There are not many communities that do this, so we are very fortunate to have people in our community that see the importance."

Participants will need to show proof of residency, such as a driver's license or a water bill. For more information, go to www.ccwa.us, or call Keep Clayton County Beautiful at (770) 473-5996.