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Pinellas on board with state-funded pesticide disposal

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

For the second year in a row, the Florida Legislature is including $100,000 in its state budget for pesticide disposal services.

Pinellas County, in turn, is spreading the word.

Through a program called Operation Cleansweep, Florida farms, groves, nurseries, pest control services, greenhouse operations and golf courses can all take advantage of a one-time, EPA-approved pesticide disposal service.

The first 750 pounds of removed pesticides, per business, will be disposed of at no cost to the owner. A hazardous waste contractor will do the dirty work, while the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will organize the logistics.

A press-release advertising the service has been up on the Pinellas County government website since mid-August.

In 1995, its inaugural year of operation, the Cleansweep program collected over 70,000 pounds of lead arsenate, a widely used pesticide for citrus operations that had recently been banned by the EPA. Since then, despite having its state funding completely cut between 2011 and 2013, the program has collected and disposed of more than 775 tons of canceled, suspended and unusable pesticides. Over 2,000 businesses, which came from all 67 Florida counties, have participated over that time.

Last year, the program recorded 233 individual participants who came from 41 different counties. Those are the highest tallied numbers in those categories in over a decade, when state-funding for Cleansweep was at $300,000 per year — triple what it is now.

Counties around the Tampa Bay area were, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the program’s most notable participants. Hillsborough had the second most individual program participants per Florida county, at 21, and Sarasota got rid of the program’s second highest amount of pesticides per county, disposing of nearly 11,000 pounds of the stuff.

In hopes of preventing any overly incestuous government-involved business deals, Operation Cleansweep discourages funding universities, pesticide manufacturers and distributors, institutions, and state and local governments. This practice is in place, according to the Cleansweep webpage, to prevent the appearance of “government funding government.”

For more information, or to register, contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at (877) 851-5285 or via email at [email protected] Information about the program is also available online at www.dep.state.fl.us.

Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for SaintPetersblog.com, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for FloridaBarTab.com. He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail [email protected], or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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