Dirty, nasty secrets
Aug 01, 2010
I'm working on a story for an upcoming issue of Farm Journal
that deals with cleaning up and selling scrap metal piles that inevitably grow behind farm shops. One scrap metal processor I interviewed for the story mentioned the challenge of getting rid of old fuel barrels, empty oil barrels, pesticide barrels and other environmentally unfriendly containers. The same goes for worn out, rubber-clad wiring harnesses, planter guage and press wheels, and old tires still mounted to their wheels.
The politically correct solution is to haul contaminated containers or environmentally hazardous wastes to EPA-approved disposal agencies or collection sites. But most of those sites are associated with larger urban areas and relatively unavailable or inconvenient to farmers or ranchers.
What is a farmer or rancher who wants to be environmentally responsible supposed to do with his hazardous, contaminated wastes? I have a feeling a lot of worn-out rubber tires get burned after dark, when the thick, oily smoke won't be noticed. The same goes for plastic pesticide bags or jugs. I've been leery of that disposal process since my uncle spent time in intensive care simply from breathing the smoke from burning insecticide bags. Old fuel barrels and oil drums...? I've heard of guys who flush them with water then use a torch to cut them into manageable pieces, but I'm not volunteering for THAT job.
The majority of farmers care about the environment and avoid doing anything that could harm the precious farmland they hope to pass on to their kids and grandkids. But sometimes we have to deal with situations that challenge our ethics and make us hope we're doing no long-lasting harm.