Farmers deposit huge quantities of toxic waste at pop-up bring sites

Farmers have brought huge quantities of toxic waste to temporary “bring centres” in a new Teagasc, EPA and Department of Agriculture pilot collection campaign.

Farmers brought 11 tonnes of waste oil, paints, animal medicines and pesticides to each of last week’s pop-up centres in livestock marts in Ballinasloe, Co Galway, and Tullow, Co Carlow.

Similar volumes are expected tomorrow at the Royal Town & Country, Trim, Co Meath; on Monday next at McDonnells Grain Store, Saleen, Midleton, Co Cork; and again at Thurles Livestock Mart, Co Tipperary, on Nov 28.

“We have had a huge response,” said Mark Gibson, Teagasc environmental specialist and co-ordinator of this initiative. “The average farmer is paying around €30 to dispose of this material.

“Farmers are very conscious of the toxic nature of these materials, which they have had very carefully stored away, stuff they weren’t sure what to do with up until now.

“Just one container of pesticides can contaminate a kilometre of river. Farmers realise these materials are dangerous, and they are willing to pay to dispose of them properly. The beauty of this pilot is that they can do it all in one run.”

There is no charge for engine oil, hydraulic oil, batteries, used bulbs, fences and other electrical goods such old TVs, monitors, fridges, drills and saws.

Farmers are paying around €2 per kg of brake fluids, coolants, antifreeze, used needles, aerosol cans and animal medicines. They would normally pay €5 per kg for these items.

Given the response, the collection’s organisers plan to develop a nationwide series of “bring centres” as soon as possible.

Teagasc said farmers realise that farm hazardous wastes can be toxic and have the potential to cause harm. Farmers are also aware of their obligations under cross compliance when it comes to recording and storing pesticides and biocides.

“It is worth pointing out to the dairy men in Cork that we will accept bio sites, and any big containers that have been rinsed out,” said Mark Gibson. “If they have cans with toxic materials in them, we want to see those too.

“However, triple rinsed cans can be disposed of in the usual centres.

“Other than that, this is an opportunity for a full clear-out. Despite the huge volumes, nobody has been waiting more than 10 or 15 minutes.”

Teagasc and their partners said the response has simply confirmed farmers’ awareness of their environmental responsibilities.

Some 1,300 farmers per year are inspected under cross compliance. Of the farms inspected in 2011, 90% had no issues arising with respect to SMR9 (pesticide component); financial penalties (1%, 3% and 5%) were received by 86 farmers.

The most common penalties related to exceeding the maximum individual and/or maximum total dose for a pesticide on a crop; poor or incomplete record keeping; mixing up products and PCS numbers for similar products; and failure to record all products used, as evidenced by half cans of product bought in the current year in store, but no records of use.


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