Bradley County’s twentysomething-year-old Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day event — originally scheduled for April 4 — has become the latest victim to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
In keeping with protocol to honor the six-foot social-distancing rule — a directive starting from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and ending at the White House — organizers have indefinitely postponed the spring event.
Traditionally, the HHWCD activity — which gives Bradley County households a chance to unload unneeded wastes that can be toxic if unceremoniously dumped into the landfill — has been held twice each year, once in late March or April, and again in October.
This year could be different if the spring observance cannot be rescheduled, and that will depend on the longevity of the COVID-19 outbreak. To date, only estimates have been offered as to how long the virus will remain a disruption to everyday life — not just in Cleveland and Bradley County, but statewide, across the nation and around the world.
“We typically have 400 to 500 families in a four-hour span participate in our collection events,” said Cheryl Dunson, HHWCD coordinator. “Thanks to the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office — whose parking lot hosts the collection event — we also rely heavily on inmate labor to help us unload the vehicles.”
And that’s one of the problems. The proximity of inmates to one another, as well as volunteers and local family members, puts the entire group at risk, Dunson said.
“After consulting with Sheriff Steve Lawson, we decided we cannot risk the spread of the virus, and jeopardizing the lives of local families, volunteers and the entire jail population,” Dunson stressed.
At this point, BCSO hopes to work with other HHWCD sponsors to schedule a new date for the spring event; however, the decision doesn’t lie as much with program organizers as it does the COVID-19 virus.
“We recognize the importance of this event and how much local residents appreciate having an opportunity to rid their homes of household toxins free of charge,” Dunson said. “But, we must remain vigilant in doing everything within our means to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.”
For years, several groups, organizations and government offices have partnered to bring the HHWCD event to the community, among them Bradley County government, Cleveland/Bradley Keep America Beautiful, Cleveland Utilities, Santek Waste Services, BCSO and the Cleveland office of the Better Business Bueau, the latter of which launched an on-site shredding option as part of the waste collections.
“It takes a concerted effort and long-range planning to stage a HHWCD event because of the number of parties involved,” Dunson said. “Because of this, our next event will likely be in the fall, but I hope and pray we can announce an earlier date for the sake of our entire community.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic infiltrated the country and disrupted most Americans’ way of life — including Cleveland and Bradley County — the HHWCD had operated on a four-hour basis, always on Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to noon.
Types of items accepted traditionally include automotive and marine products, home maintenance and improvement products, home lawn and garden products, electronics (CPUs, TVs, monitors, printers and keyboards), and miscellaneous items like pool chemicals, photo processing chemicals, thermostats and thermometers, medicines and drugs, aerosols and fluorescent tubes.
Types of accepted auto products normally include oil and fuel additives, grease and rust solvents, carburetor and fuel inspector cleaners, starter fluids, body putty and gasoline.
For additional information, contact Dunson at 641-5990.