Douglas County residents soon will have a safe place to dispose of paints, pesticides and other toxic items lurking in their garages and kitchen drawers and under sinks.
Douglas County and the city of Lawrence received a $33,800 matching grant Monday from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to build a facility for collecting household hazardous wastes, said Bob Yoos, Lawrence solid waste superintendent.
Local residents will be able to take their household chemicals to the facility instead of tossing them out and contaminating the local landfill, Yoos said.
Household items the facility will accept include automobile products, batteries, cleansers, mothballs, pool cleaners, paints, pesticides and solvents. Chemists will be on hand to determine the identity of concoctions found in unmarked bottles.
The collection site will be located in the Douglas County public works shop facility on 23rd Street, just east of Haskell Indian Junior College, according to Chris McKenzie, county administrator.
The county supplied the land for the facilty, Yoos said. The city will pay the additional $33,800 to match the grant.
The grant will pay for the construction of the facility and its operating expenses for one year. The facility should be ready to accept chemicals by June or July, Yoos said, and will be open one or two Saturdays a month.
Yoos said he expects several of the items to be recycled. For example, the paints will be mixed together and donated to non-profit housing groups.
Contaminated and other unusable chemicals will be sealed in drums and sent to the proper waste facility, Yoos said. Oil-based products will be burned.
Another benefit of the grant is that it keeps toxic chemicals out of the hands of curious children, said Pat Marvin, Lawrence recycling coordinator.
"The grant helps us get stuff out of the garages that people aren't using that is like a time bomb for our children."