Solid Waste Authority begins spring cleanup

PARKERSBURG – Wood County Solid Waste Authority’s spring cleanup got off to a good start Friday, although the types of items being accepted have changed this year.

The cleanup program, which is sponsored by SWA in cooperation with DuPont Washington Works and Waste Management, will continue today from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at Erickson All-Sports Facility in Parkersburg, said Solid Waste Authority director John Reed.

In a change from previous years, Reed said the program is not taking household trash or bulk goods this year.

“We are reducing the amount of product we take and increasing the amount of time we spend on education,” he said.

“The reason is last year we spent $17,000 just on disposing of household trash and bulky items and these are items your trash hauler will take at no additional charge; all you have to do is put them out at the curbside. By state law, everyone is required to either subscribe to a trash hauling service or be able to produce a receipt showing landfill use; they aren’t paying additional for the pickup service so we didn’t see any need for the government to do that,” Reed said.

Items that are being accepted this year for disposal include tires, batteries, fluorescent lightbulbs, electronics, televisions, computers, propane tanks and scrap metal.

Waverly resident Gary Oates had made two trips Friday to bring materials for disposal.

“It’s a good event,” he said. “People used to throw this stuff over the hill and this cleans it up; it’s a good idea.”

Reed said things were going as expected Friday as the cleanup program began. A line of vehicles was waiting to drop off materials Friday morning when it started, but slowed down through the day.

Reed said he expected less traffic this year because of the focus on specific items for disposal.

He also expected traffic to pick up today, with more people free on a Saturday to bring items to the dropoff location in the parking area of the Erickson facility.

“We had lines backed up originally, starting about 7 (a.m.) (Friday) in the morning,” Reed said. “When we opened at 8 (a.m.) it took about an hour-and-a-half to get the lines back to normal. By about 11 or 11:30 (a.m.), it pretty much died down to where we had nothing but tricklers throughout the day. That makes it nice because it’s easier to operate,” he said Friday afternoon.

Reed said one of the things SWA is working on this year is educating consumers about what their own haulers can and are required to dispose of, without the need to wait for special programs like the spring cleanup.

“Your hauler is required by state law to take up to eight tires per year at no charge,” he said. “Your hauler is required by state law to take items such as TVs, computers and furniture once per month at no charge. Your hauler is required by state law to take hardened paint at any time with your regular trash service.”

One of the largest groups of items being dropped off Friday was tires. Chris Cartwright, project manager with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan (REAP) program, was handling tire disposal with Tim Graham Excavating of Parkersburg.

Through the REAP program, Cartwright works with similar cleanup programs throughout West Virginia. The number of tires brought in for disposal can vary from year to year. In recent years, there seems to be more awareness and interest in properly disposing of them, he said.

In counties where cleanup days are held, more people are willing to hold on to items and bring them to the dropoff point each year, rather than just throwing items out somewhere, he said.

Graham Excavating owner Tim Graham said he has been contracting with the REAP program for tire disposal for years and has been helping with the Wood County spring cleanup for 10 years. During that time, Graham said he has seen more awareness about proper tire disposal.

He will see thousands of tires brought in for events like this weekend’s cleanup. While illegal dumping still exists, it seems to be decreasing, Graham said.

“We used to have six or eight dumps around here each year that we would have to go out and clean up, over the hills. Now, it’s down to two or three so that’s about cut in half,” he said.