Trashing East Texas: The Problem And Solution

There's no excuse for furniture, appliances and dangerous chemicals, along with abandoned trailers, to be piled up alongside Highway 79 in Panola County.

So, why does this happen?

"It's a little bit of laziness and a little bit of not knowing what to do with it," Stephen McCauley, a Carthage resident, offered as a possible explanation.

"Because they don't know where the landfill is, and the landfill will charge you for dumping," Lydia Tunnell, another Carthage resident, said.

But even landfills don't take every type of trash. Landfills like Greenwood Farms in Tyler take bulky items, but you'll have to pay. And most landfills do not accept hazardous waste, including pesticides, paint, and tires.

So where do the hazardous materials go?

We asked some East Texans if they knew.

"No clue," Marcus Nix, a Timpson resident, said.

"I'm not totally informed, but I'd like to be," Martha White, a Tenaha resident, said.

One man has the answer.

"If a citizen has a tremendous amount of waste, if they would keep it stored under lock and key, and then collect that hazardous waste, they can call TCEQ," Doug McKinney, Region 5 Coordinator for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said.

For those of you with smaller amounts of hazardous waste, you have two options: Either hold onto it until an annual collection event comes to your area. (That may take a few years.) Or take it to a permanent drop-off site.

But there are things even TCEQ won't take.

"Tires, explosives, ammunition," McKinney said. "Nor can you drop off fertilizer."

You'll have to look in the phonebook for a company in your area that will take those items, and that will likely cost you.

Or you can take care of some things yourself, legally, like one Beckville man does with his plastic herbicide and pesticide containers. You'll just have to follow proper guidelines.

"I triple rinse them, like it says, and punch holes in the bottom, just to discard them," Henry Wyatt said.

A lot of options, so there's no need for "trashing East Texas."

The City of Tyler and Longview provide free curbside pickup for bulky items anytime, but you have to call and arrange it. Those plans are already in the works for Tyler residents. Next week, during the Spring Cleaning program, you can put your bulky items by the curb at any time, Monday through Friday. Acceptable garbage includes furniture, appliances, fence material, and up to four tires.

Then next month, TCEQ's annual collection event is coming to East Texas. On April 27 in Carthage, you can take hazardous waste to the Texas Department of Transportation office, from 8 a.m to 1 p.m.

Julie Tam, reporting.