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State grant to help in disposal of waste

County residents should be able to clear their closets and cabinets of paint thinner, clog removers, and aging insecticides after the county accepted a $100,000 state grant Tuesday.

The grant will pay for the county to build a facility for the storage of hazardous household waste, said Dick Radacky, manager of the Hernando County Utilities Department.

These are the same wastes that tend to build up in people's homes, he said.

"I have a hunch that what people are doing is storing it," Radacky said. "It's a lot of the stuff that you just don't think of getting rid of until the programs are announced."

The grant comes from the state Department of Environmental Regulation, Radacky said, and already has been offered to the county, pending the commission's acceptance of the money.

The commission voted unanimously to accept the grant. But committing to the program will cost the county $75,000 to $150,000 over the next two years, Radacky said.

The grant will pay for building a fenced-in area and two prefabricated buildings to store the waste at the county's new landfill in the northwest part of the county.

Radacky said this will cost about $75,000 and could be open as early as August.

That will leave about $25,000 to go toward the first of what are called "amnesty events," when the homeowners will have a chance to bring their chemicals to the facility.

The grant dictates that the county hold three more of these events over about the next two years. These could cost from $25,000 to $50,000 apiece, Radacky said.

The collections are expensive because the county must pay for a private company to haul and destroy the hazardous waste. The county also must advertise the events in newspapers.

The last time the state sponsored such a collection, residents turned in 21,000 pounds of the waste, which cost $2.23 per pound for disposal.

The estimates of the cost to the county vary so widely because there is no telling how much hazardous waste will be brought in, Radacky said. He said the money should be covered by the annual landfill fee charged every homeowner.

He recommended the program because he expects that the state will mandate that every county establish a household hazardous waste facility, as well as a program to collect it. Thirty-four other counties already have accepted the state grant to implement such a program.

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