Long Island, NY - October 27, 2016 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the collection of more than 105,000 pounds of pesticides and other potentially hazardous chemicals during two recent CleanSweepNY collection events on Long Island. The Department of Environmental Conservation’s CleanSweepNY events were held on October 25 in Riverhead and on October 26 in Melville as part of statewide efforts to protect public health and the environment by providing opportunities for safe, legal and proper disposal of unwanted or obsolete pesticides and other chemicals, including elemental mercury.
"As we have witnessed far too many times, the reckless disposal of dangerous chemicals can have serious consequences on air and water quality, and we must remain vigilant in reducing the threats posed by these unwanted chemicals," Governor Cuomo said. "These events help ensure these unwanted and unused chemicals are taken out of circulation and are no longer a risk to the health and safety of Long Islanders and a hazard to their communities."
Since CleanSweepNY's inception in 2002, 22 collection events have been held across New York State, capturing over 1.6 million pounds of chemicals and over 870 pounds of elemental mercury. In addition, approximately 5,000 plastic pesticide containers, which may otherwise have been disposed of in landfills, have been collected for recycling.
This special CleanSweepNY event focused on Nassau and Suffolk counties and was directed at agricultural and non-agricultural professional pesticide applicators and business users such as golf courses, cemeteries and marinas. CleanSweepNY services are not available to homeowners. Additionally, empty, triple-rinsed HDPE (#2) plastic pesticide containers were collected for recycling.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "CleanSweepNY is an important complement to Governor Cuomo’s recently created Water Quality Rapid Response Team, which works to protect New York’s drinking water sources. By ensuring the proper disposal of old, unwanted pesticides and other chemicals, we are directly reducing potential threats to water quality and protecting public health and the environment. I commend the local farmers, businesses, and institutions who took advantage of this opportunity to help build a toxic-free future."
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, "Water is our greatest natural asset, and I commend Governor Andrew Cuomo for creating the Clean Sweep NY initiative to help combat the critical water quality crisis. Improving water quality in our entire region is a collective effort. Along with numerous technological innovations that my administration has been spearheading in Suffolk County, much needed funding and initiatives such as this, courtesy of the governor, are all critical to reversing the trend of declining water quality."
Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said, "The State’s efforts to provide safe disposal options are imperative for protecting our Island’s drinking and coastal water resources. The Clean Sweep program is a successful model to encourage a wide range of participation from businesses to motivate them to recycle and safely dispose of hazardous materials. Programs that reduce potential contamination and public exposure to dangerous toxics such as mercury are exactly what we need. Kudos to this successful program!"
Jessica Anson, Public Policy Director, Long Island Farm Bureau, said, “The Clean Sweep NY program has been successful in providing an avenue for farmers to safely remove unwanted materials from their businesses and take an additional step to protect the community’s natural resources. We are pleased by the amount of participation in this program across Long Island. Farmers continue to show that they are responsible stewards of the environment. We are thankful to the DEC for their efforts in working with the farm community on projects like this.”
CleanSweepNY is an Environmental Benefit Project, administered in partnership with the Natural Heritage Trust, which the Department of Environmental Conservation initially established with approximately $2.2 million from several enforcement settlements in Department of Environmental Conservation's Pest Management program.
Collections were scheduled and organized by the Department of Environmental Conservation with the collaboration of the New York State Department of Transportation, which provides sites in the targeted regions for the collection of these unwanted chemical materials. The program is supported by Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Agricultural Container Recycling Council, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, New York Farm Bureau and related grower associations.
For more information on CleanSweepNY and future collection events in other parts of the state, visit here or call toll free: 1-877-SWEEPNY (877-793-3769).