Most “do it yourself-ers” enjoy challenging home improvement projects or feel a sense of accomplishment upon completing minor mechanical repairs.  DIY projects save time and money, and can help the environment when work is completed at home instead of driving a distance to have something repaired or having a contractor make multiple trips to work at your home.  

One by-product of these projects is leftover supplies. It’s not unusual for used motor oil, extra paint, pesticides or old gas from the lawn mower or boat to pile up. Many people know that these are just a few examples of substances that should be disposed of properly and should never go to the landfill, but what is proper disposal? Can it be poured onto the ground? Should it be flushed down the toilet? What about putting them in the storm water drains?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the answer to these questions is a firm “No.” The items mentioned are a few examples of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW). Improper disposal practices can, indeed damage septic systems or contaminate soil and drinking water supplies. In fact, the EPA suggests that even allowing these items to accumulate around the home is hazardous to children, pets, and wildlife.  Also, containers can break, allowing chemicals to leach into the ground. With the Northern Neck’s proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, this is a very relevant concern. 

Northern Neck residents and property owners will have several opportunities during 2020 to dispose of HHW items. All four counties hold HHW collections during the year, and three of those counties also accept obsolete, broken, and unwanted electronics, known as E-Waste.

Kathleen Watson, Education and Outreach Specialist at the Northern Neck Soil and Water Conservation District, based in Warsaw partners with officials from all four counties, and their respective Extension Agents to schedule and conduct the HHW and E-Waste Collections, with most counties holding two collections per year. Going into her sixth season of coordinating the collections, she anticipates another year of busy and successful collections.  “In 2019, the Northumberland County collections saw a total of 304 cars come through, dropping off 25,200 lbs. of HHW and 8,400 lbs. of E-Waste. That was a record amount of HHW for the county, which is pretty remarkable since we have been holding collections in Northumberland for eleven years now,” she said.

All HHW and E-Waste events are for residents/property owners from their respective counties. *Westmoreland County allows residents to bring 100 lbs. of HHW to each collection at no charge, and charges a per lb. rate of $1.05 for any items over the 100 lb. limit. Fee policies may vary by county. 

The following collection events are scheduled for 2020. Dates are pending for fall collections in Westmoreland and Northumberland and will be released soon.  

• WESTMORELAND COUNTY:  Saturday, April 25, 2020; 9 AM-2 PM, A.T. Johnson Human Services Building, Rt. 3, Montross VA Hazardous waste ONLY, no electronics accepted.   No charge for first 100 lbs.; a fee of $1.05/lb. is collected for loads exceeding 100 lbs.  

• NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY:  Saturday, May 2, 2020; 9 AM-2 PM Northumberland Middle School Parking Lot, enter from Route 360

• LANCASTER COUNTY:  Saturday, October 17, 2020; 9 AM-2 PM

Lancaster County Courthouse parking lot, Mary Ball Road, Lancaster, VA.

• RICHMOND COUNTY: Saturday, October 24, 2020; 9 AM-2 PM; Indianfield Convenience Ctr., Warsaw

Watson urges anyone who has specific questions about Household Hazardous Waste disposal or the scheduled events to contact their county Virginia Cooperative Extension office or to call her at the NNSWCD office at (804) 313-9102 x105.

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