OCALA - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) along with the Southern Waste Information eXchange, Inc. (SWIX), the Marion County Sheriff's Office and Gander Mountain Store of Ocala collected more than 660 pounds of old or unwanted ammunition last weekend at an ammunitions collection event in Ocala. This marked the fourth year DEP has co-sponsored the event, but the first time it was held in the Ocala area.
"Improper disposal of ammunition has potential environmental, health and safety risks," said Mary Jean Yon, Director of DEP's Division of Waste Management. "This event made it easy for hunters and other residents to safely remove potentially dangerous ammunition from their homes and prevent it from ending up in Florida's landfills."
The proper disposal of old or unwanted ammunition can save lives by preventing it from getting into the hands of young children, and can also help protect the environment by keeping lead and other contaminants from seeping into the groundwater.
Gene Jones, Executive Director of SWIX, first proposed holding a pilot collection event in 2005 in Tallahassee after he was unable to find a place to properly and safely dispose of old ammunition that he had in his home. Tallahassee has hosted events for four years.
"I realized that a mechanism is needed where people can dispose of old and unwanted ammunition in an appropriate manner," said Jones. "We have experienced a lot of success over the last three years, collecting nearly 5,000 pounds of old and/or unwanted ammunition just in Tallahassee alone. We were pleased to be able to provide this collection event in the Ocala area with funding assistance from DEP."
Items that were collected from 68 participants include: 250 pounds of shotgun shells, 274 pounds of bullets, 25 pounds of flares and 114 pounds of gunpowder and black powder.
DEP and SWIX may be holding other ammunitions collection events around the state later this year. For more information about the ammunitions collection events, contact SWIX at 1-800-441-7949 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEP is the state's principal environmental agency, created to protect, conserve and manage Florida's environment and natural resources. DEP enforces federal and state environmental laws, protects Florida's air and water quality, cleans up pollution, regulates solid waste management, promotes pollution prevention and acquires environmentally-sensitive lands for preservation. The agency also maintains a statewide system of parks, trails and aquatic preserves.
For more information on solid waste disposal and recycling, please visit DEP's Web site at www.dep.state.fl.us/waste.