Gussie-up Day at landfill gives Earth Day new, local meaning

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Photo by Jessica Burton Marshall County residents are met by folks with Marshall County's Solid Waste Department and a state contractor for disposal of hazardous household wastes.

Hundreds of people went to Cedar Ridge Landfill on Saturday for Gussie Up Marshall County day to drop off hazardous household items and hard to dispose of items.

The program, conducted by Marshall County Solid Waste Director Morgan Thomas in conjunction with the county's Beautification Committee, was dubbed Gussie Up Marshall County and it was just in time for spring cleaning.

"We had over 200 participants," Thomas said. "We collected 177 tires, several loads of debris from homeowner's spring cleaning activities, and two old fiberglass boats.

He anticipates delivering a more detailed report on hazardous waste collected in a couple of weeks.

Gussie Up Marshall County Day included the collection of household hazardous wastes by a state contractor.

A small amount of motor oil can pollute a large amount of ground water, so liquids, powders and sprays as common as pesticides, paint, antifreeze, oil and other substances were collected by Clean Harbors Environmental Services of Greenbrier, Tenn., according to Robert Wadley, an environmental specialist with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Clean Harbors Environmental Services is contracted by the state to safely collect and dispose of hazardous items.

"Most of it is paint," Wadley said of oil-based paint that's seen as hazardous. "It takes a good portion of our budget."

However, latex paint offers two environmentally friendly stories here.

One simple way to dispose of extra latex paint is to paint something, Wadley said. If it's dried, it won't pollute. If it dried in the can and is solid then it may be discarded with household trash at a convenience center.

"But the latex brought here,is recycled," Wadley said Saturday. "Morgan Thomas makes new paint out of it."

Thomas has a paint blending operation and the paint is available for use by various organizations.

While paint has always been the most common substance brought to household hazardous waste collections, there are always a few unusual things brought for disposal.

"We had some mercury come from thermometers," Wadley said.

Although absolute proof is lacking, mercury is believed to cause mental illness. Many years ago mercury was used to process felt for hats, hence the expression "Mad as a hatter."

Wadley said, pool chemicals, chlorinators and other more common chemicals used at home were also brought for disposal at the landfill during Gussie Up Day.

Hot dogs, hamburgers and refreshments were made available at the landfill which was one of several locations for Gussie Up Day.

"We had Boy Scout groups working on other projects in the county," Thomas said.