By SCOTT PESZNECKER
Old paint, car batteries, household cleaners and other chemicals can be dropped off at no charge throughout Calaveras County this weekend.
Calaveras County Public Works Department is paying for the county's 10th annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection event, open only to Calaveras and Alpine county residents.
Drop-off stations will be open Saturday at Angels Camp, Arnold, Copperopolis, San Andreas and Valley Springs. A station will be open Sunday in West Point.
It's a chance to get rid of chemicals that could pose environmental or safety hazards if they wind up in landfills.
For example, if discarded bleach and household cleaner ran together in a landfill, the result could be a fire, Public Works Program Coordinator Jennifer Bar said.
Also, this weekend's event is convenient. The Rock Creek landfill in Milton has a permanent drop-off site for hazardous chemicals, but it is far from most county communities.
"People who live up in Arnold are probably not inclined to drive down to Rock Creek to get rid of a can of paint," Barr said.
Tires, refrigerators, air conditioners, freezers, televisions and computer monitors can also be disposed of at drop sites this weekend.
Last year, 53 tons of waste were dropped off during the weekend event.
About 75 percent of the material collected is recycled. Latex paint is used to make cement; flammable solvents and paint thinners are used to fuel boats; and the lead from car batteries is extracted and used in new batteries.
"Most of our stuff is paint-related materials, and we get a lot of automotive batteries," Barr said.
Anything that's not recycled will be taken to Arkansas for incineration.
The county will pay about $80,000 for a Camarillo-based company to do the collecting.
State law requires that people transfer no more than 15 gallons or 125 pounds of waste to the drop sites in each trip, but people can take as many trips as needed.
The drop sites will not accept explosives, gas cylinders larger than 5 gallons or radioactive or biological waste.