State offering free pesticide collection for some in county

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) is offering its CHEMSWEEP program for a limited time in Warren County this year to ensure the safe disposal of pesticides in the area.

This program is only offered every few years, for select counties, and any interested parties need to act quickly and register on the CHEMSWEEP website before March 31. Parties will be required to complete a registration and inventory form before they are contacted by a representative who will verify what pesticides need to be disposed of. The registration and inventory forms are also available at the county’s Penn State Extension office.

According to PDA spokesperson Nicole Bucher, the goal of the program is to provide pesticide applicators and dealers with a viable means to dispose of canceled, unwanted, or unused pesticides.

Bucher said that pesticides are defined as, “any kind of chemical that they have for the treatment or prevention of unwelcome insects or organisms that are harmful to cultivated plants or animals.”

“We hope that anybody who has pesticides that may be old or unusable participates in the program. It’s a free program and is certainly something that is worth while,” said Bucher. “Pesticides can potentially leak into the environment when the containers they are stored in become corroded. This creates an unsafe environment for people and animals who are near the pesticides.”

According to a PDA press release, participation is free to growers, farmers, retired farmers, private applicators, pesticide application businesses and pesticide dealers who wish to dispose of less than 2,000 pounds of waste pesticides. Businesses wishing to dispose of more than 2,000 pounds may also enroll in the program, but will be charged at the PDA’s contract price for any amount over the limit.

“The pesticides are actually picked up by a contractor who is hired by the Department of Agriculture,” explained Bucher. “This ensures as little movement of the pesticides as possible something we aim for. The contractors we hire are trained to handle pesticides that might be unstable.”

The actual collection of the pesticides will occur between June and November..

In September 2012, the CHEMSWEEP program celebrated its two millionth pound of pesticide that was disposed of properly.

In Warren County, homeowners who wish to dispose of unwanted pesticides are prohibited from throwing them in the trash. To dispose of small quantities of chemicals, contact the county’s Solid Waste Authority for information.

Bucher stressed that the program will not be offered again in Warren County for several years and encouraged parties to examine pesticide storage areas for unwanted chemicals and consider their options.