Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Fletcher administration, local government to offer mercury collection in Fayette County
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 19, 2006) – Governor Ernie Fletcher’s administration is teaming with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) to benefit the environment with a day of free mercury collection and recycling for residents of Fayette County on Earth Day – Saturday, April 22.
The one-day program for mercury and household equipment containing mercury will be held as part of the local government’s “Spring Clean” collection of household hazardous waste – common items ranging from batteries and bug spray to lead paint and oven cleaner.
Details were announced today in a news conference by LaJuana S. Wilcher, secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC); Dr. Steve Davis, deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH), and Mayor Teresa Isaac. The news conference was on the Spring Clean site of the former Old Frankfort Pike Landfill in Lexington.
Under the Fletcher administration, EPPC has annually spearheaded a statewide Earth Week campaign. Its theme this year is a question – What Can You Do? – intended to encourage Kentuckians to consider the ways in which everyone can help the environment. One way, Wilcher said, is by properly disposing of mercury, whose hazards seem to be consistently underestimated by the general public.
“If you have elemental mercury in your home, you should exercise extreme caution with it and package it to prevent leaks or spills,” Wilcher said. “Then it should be disposed of through expert collection programs such as the one in Fayette County. It is one simple way to protect the environment we all enjoy so much.”
Eighty-nine mercury spills have been reported in Kentucky since 2000, of which 31 were in schools. In 2005 alone, 16 mercury spills in schools required emergency responses, including evacuations.
EPPC and KDPH will be providing replacement thermometers during the event. “As we engage in Earth Day and Earth Week, this event comes as a welcome reminder of simple things we can do to protect our environment and our citizens,” Davis said.
"A few drops of elemental mercury can raise air concentrations of mercury to harmful levels. At high exposures inhaling the vapors can damage the lungs, nervous system and gastrointestinal system," Isaac said. "I can think of no better way to celebrate Earth Week."
The mercury collection is a pilot project. Urban County Government will accept the mercury under a memorandum of agreement with EPPC’s Division of Waste Management, which will provide up to $7,500 to reimburse the local government’s expenses for the event. Two other collections brought in 111 pounds of mercury in Madison County and 175 pounds of mercury in McCracken County. A fourth collection event is planned for May 20 in Louisville.
Kentuckians will join others across the world in celebrating Earth Day on Saturday, April 22. Spearheaded by the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, a number of state agencies, local governments, businesses and organizations have joined together to celebrate Earth Day in the Commonwealth. Some of these partners have organized environmental activities throughout the month of April while others are providing information and resources on protecting Kentucky’s environment.
This is the third year in a row for a month-long, organized campaign in celebration of Earth Day. Among activities planned are hikes, special events, college campus programs, environmental award presentations and demonstrations of new, environmentally friendly technology. Visit the state Earth Day Web site at www.earthday.ky.gov to learn more about Kentucky's Earth Day celebration, and the Division of Waste Management Web site, www.recycle.ky.gov, to learn more about recycling.