Photo by Heather Middleton
By M.J. Subiria Arauz
Clayton County residents will be able to safely dispose of hazardous waste, at no cost, during a Saturday event organized by the Clayton County Water Authority, according to a spokesperson for the authority.
Suzanne Brown said that on Saturday, April 23, the authority's Stormwater Management division will host the annual "Household Hazardous Waste Amnesty Day," from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., at the W.B. Casey Water Reclamation Facility, 8890 Roberts Road, in Jonesboro. The nearest cross street is Flint River Road, she said.
"Customers often have these items stored in their garage, or basement, and aren't really sure what to do with them," said Kevin Osbey, stormwater utility manager for the authority. "Our Amnesty Day event gives folks the opportunity to drop off these items, free of charge, so that we can safely dispose of them out of our landfill, and local creeks."
People who want to discard hazardous wastes need to prove they are residents of the county, said Brown. Participants can bring their driver's license, or a water bill from the Clayton County Water Authority, she said.
Brown said items that can be disposed of include: household latex and oil paints, cooking oil and grease, bleaches and chlorine, pesticides and herbicides, solvents and sealers, automotive and household batteries, drain cleaners, paint thinner, wood strippers, motor oil, transmission fluid and antifreeze, aerosol sprays, fluorescent bulbs, oven cleaners, insect sprays, rodent killers, fire extinguishers, propane and butane tanks, over-the-counter and prescription medications.
Stormwater Utility Manager Osbey said if hazardous waste is disposed of improperly, harmful chemicals could eventually end up in neighboring streams, creeks or stormwater drains.
"The chemicals can potentially find themselves back into our drinking water," he said.
Osbey explained that Clayton County has a separated sewage system, which includes a sanitary sewer, and a storm water system.
He said chemicals that flow through storm drains, eventually fall into creeks, or streams. The chemicals can affect the wildlife that depends on the water. The water continues to flow from the creeks and streams, into lakes and reservoirs, which are often used by children and people who fish. "We have recreational uses," said Osbey. "Kids swim, people boat in various reservoirs. I, as a boater, wouldn't like to fish, swim or play in contaminated water."
Chemicals that flow into the sanitary sewer directly travel to a water reclamation facility operated by the authority, he said. For example, said Osbey, pharmaceuticals that are flushed down the toilet enter a water reclamation facility. The facility may have to purchase new equipment and use additional chemicals to remove the harmful substances from the water.
"As those drugs get to treatment, you have to spend a lot more money in removing those constituents from the water," he said. "Eventually, it could affect a resident's water bill."
He said the hazardous wastes will be recycled, re-used or incinerated.
Spokesperson Brown added that the Clayton Police Department will also be on hand to collect prescription and over-the-counter medications. She said the items collected by the police department will be handled by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Officer Phong Nguyen, public information officer for the Clayton County Police Department, said this is an important event for the department, because it will assist in keeping, "harmful material out of Clayton County drinking water."
"It's all free, and will make people aware, so they don't flush pills and waste down the toilet," Nguyen said. "Because we end up drinking that water."
Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency will be in Jonesboro April 30 to collect old prescription pills from the Clayton County Police Department. Pills can be dropped off at the police department at 7911 North McDonough St.
Volunteers from the Jonesboro and Forest Park Kiwanis clubs, the Clayton County Grassroots Leadership Institute, Leadership Clayton, and Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) students from Lovejoy High School, will assist at the event.
-- Staff writer Kathy Jefcoats contributed to this report.