By STEVEN NALLEY
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality announced Monday it awarded a $34,500 solid waste assistance grant to the Golden Triangle Solid Waste Management Authority.
The GTSWMA will use the grant for an annual event where it collects hazardous waste brought in by homeowners from Choctaw, Clay, Lowndes, Noxubee, Oktibbeha and Webster counties. Luis Morillo, a member of the solid waste policy planning and grants branch of MDEQ, said GTSWMA has received this grant continually for several years and each county usually gets allocated some funds from the solid waste assistance grants each year.
“Other communities choose to clean up illegal dumping or (conduct) recycling efforts,” Morillo said. It helps the local governments to address local issues dealing with solid waste and the proper management of solid waste.”
Jimmy Sloan, executive director of the Golden Triangle Regional Landfill, said GTSWMA has conducted a hazardous waste collection event every spring for about 15 years, holding more than one some years. Every year, he said, MDEQ has partially funded it with a grant.
“It used to be called the ‘Right Way to Throw Away’ grants program,” Sloan said. “We probably got grants through that program for five (or) 10 years. Then, that money went away, but the solid waste assistance grant (took its place). Thus far, we’ve been lucky in getting one every year.”
The grant pays for 75 percent of the event, Sloan said, requiring GTSWMA to match it with 25 percent. He said GTSWMA usually puts in more than the amount needed for the grant match.
“We hire a contractor to handle the really hazardous materials,” Sloan said. “They’ll probably cost $30,000 for their services. We anticipate this program will cost us between $45,000 and $50,000 total.”
The results, Sloan said, are worth it. When GTSWMA held its last collection day on May 7, he said, 33,200 pounds of hazardous material came to the regional landfill. Sloan said GTSWMA counts attendance by the number of vehicles parked at the event, and 424 vehicles came May 7.
“We have it tentatively scheduled for this year for April 28,” Sloan said.
Sloan said GTSWMA made a distinction in the early years of the event between household hazardous waste and other hazardous waste. At first, businesses wanted to submit their hazardous waste at the event as well, he said, bringing more than GTSWMA could handle. He said households contain plenty of hazardous waste on their own, including “90 percent of what’s under your kitchen sink.”
“You’ve got drain cleaner, which is either an acid or caustic,” Sloan said. “You’ve got all kinds of cleaning supplies, bleach pesticides, batteries, either lead or acid batteries like in a car or just flashlight batteries. Old computer monitors and televisions have a lot of lead in the monitor. A lot of paint isn’t necessarily hazardous, but it’s a liquid, so the landfills won’t take it. We also get a lot of used motor oil that day.”