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State and county combine to remove hazardous waste
Household waste
James Clark photo Clean Harbors employees were in McMinnville on Saturday to collect hazardous household waste and received an estimated 5,000 pounds at a mobile site at Three Star Mall.

Fluorescent light bulbs and brake fluid. Paint thinner and driveway sealant.

These were some of the items accepted Saturday as an estimated 5,000 pounds of household hazardous waste was collected at Three Star Mall. The mobile collection site typically costs $12,000 to $15,000 to operate, but was provided to the county free of charge thanks to a state grant.

“Our biggest problem when it comes to household hazardous waste is people realizing what it is,” said Bob Fletcher with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “We have an identity crisis. If you ask people if they have any hazardous waste around their house, they’ll almost always say no. They think because they bought it at Walmart it’s OK. But some stuff around the house can be as hazardous as what’s produced from industry, just not as much of it.”

Nearly 50 local homeowners capitalized on the free service and dropped off hazardous materials that will be kept out of landfills and disposed of properly. The state partners with Clean Harbors, a company from Greenbrier, to conduct the mobile events and holds right at 55 a year, according to Fletcher.

“When we get these materials out of the home, it reduces the chance of fires, it reduces the chance of accidental poisoning, it reduces the chance of burns,” said Fletcher, who points out the average home can accumulate 100 pounds of hazardous waste in the basement and garage. “Plus it keeps it out of the landfills, which is much better for the environment.”

Warren County government has partnered with the state to hold a hazardous waste collection day at the mall for more than 10 years. Also held in conjunction with the event was the county’s 14th annual Tarp the Truck, which provides free tarps in hopes of preventing litter from flying from the back of pickups. The free tarps are courtesy of the Tennessee Department of Transportation.