On Saturday, residents decided to clean up instead of storing up unwanted bulky items and household hazardous waste.
Open top trash bins were placed throughout Johnson City for the collection of large items not typically taken at the curbside and hazardous waste items were accepted and sorted at Daniel Boone High School.
Truck beds and trunks full of cleaners, pesticides and chemicals were unloaded in the school’s parking lot. Clean Harbors Environmental Services from Greenbrier was contracted through the state to handle and dispose of the materials. Crew members wore protective clothing and some wore gas masks. They separated the items into groups of poisons, corrosives, flammables, degreasers and medications.
Many of the liquids will be incinerated and some will be used to incinerate other items, said Patrick Storey, technical service coordinator for Clean Harbors.
Vincent Runion and his dad, Clifford, dropped off bottles of used car fluids and some expired medications. Clifford also brought a small bottle of solid mercury from an old chemistry set.
“I have always taken care of it, but it’s more trouble than it’s worth,” he said. “It’s much nicer just to get rid of it than keep it in the house.”
Before driving off to enjoy the rest of the day, the Runions said it felt good to discard these items correctly.
Participating in the hazardous waste collection did indeed have its benefits.
“It helps the watersheds,” Storey said. “These items can end up in the drinking water and more tax dollars have to be spent to clean it up.”
Allowing dangerous chemicals to be disposed of responsibly may be the environmentally friendly thing to do, but sometimes it just feels good to clear out the clutter.
“This is stuff that’s been collecting at my mom’s house for 60 years,” said Lance Ellis of Johnson City. “She was just getting sick of seeing it sit there.”
Connie Bennett, who brought a minivan full of “pieces and parts of things too big for curbside pickup,” shared the same sentiment.
“The stuff you save up all year long and wonder, ‘What am I going to do with it?’ I can bring it here and it saves me a trip to the landfill,” she said.
Workers from the Johnson City Solid Waste Division helped Bennett unload her vehicle at the Indian Trail Middle School drop-off site where all sorts of odds and ends were tossed into a trash bin, including her old fire pit and pieces of lattice work.
Both events were offered as a convenience for area residents, but some hazardous items can be recycled all year round in Washington County and Johnson City. Paint, antifreeze, used motor oil, propane tanks and batteries can be taken to one of the five county convenience centers and the Johnson City Solid Waste Division, 91 New St., accepts used motor and cooking oil, propane tanks and batteries.