With spring quickly approaching, the Town of Hempstead is preparing for another year of S.T.O.P (Stop Throwing Out Pollutants) Programs, which will be brought to communities throughout the township. This year, we are introducing a new mercury collection initiative in partnership with Covanta Energy. The mercury program will divert a dangerous toxin from our regional waste stream while adding an environmental safeguard to our water quality and air supply.

Hempstead Town is committed to preserving the natural beauty and ecological integrity of our area, and with our S.T.O.P. program we are leading the way in recycling and the responsible disposal of hazardous household waste. And, now the mercury collection program will be included as part of the town's ultra successful S.T.O.P. program.

S.T.O.P enables residents to safely dispose of hazardous household waste at convenient locations throughout the town. This vital service prevents hazardous materials from entering the waste stream and harming our delicate ecosystem. The mercury collection program provides us with a unique opportunity to collect dangerous mercury-based items that exist in our homes, businesses and public buildings.

Among the many items found around the house that should not be thrown out with the regular garbage are: bleach, ammonia, antifreeze, pesticides (including "Weed-B-Gone" or Silvex 2, 4, 5-T), cleaning solvents, disinfectants, drain cleaners, oven cleaners, paint and paint thinners, photography and swimming pool chemicals, spot removers and small propane tanks. Common items that contain mercury and are suitable for the collection program are thermometers, thermostats, manometers and fluorescent light bulbs. To encourage safe and sound environmental practices in the home and workplace, each resident who turns in a mercury thermostat will be eligible for a $5 gift certificate from one of three home improvement retailers, Home Depot, Lowe's or Ace Hardware.

The schedule of the S.T.O.P Program is complete for 2009. The first day was scheduled for March 15 at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. All program hours are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Other dates and locations are:

Long Beach: Saturday, April 4 on Centre Street off Park Avenue in City Hall Parking Lot.

Bellmore: Sunday, May 3 at the Newbridge Road Park garage.

Bay Park: Saturday, June 13 at Bay Park, East Rockaway.

Levittown: Saturday, July 11 at the Town Parking Field, Division Avenue (off Hempstead Turnpike).

Hempstead: Sunday, August 9 at the Village of Hempstead Department of Public Works parking lot on Milburn Avenue.

Bellmore: Saturday, September 12 at the Newbridge Road Park garage.

North Woodmere: Sunday, October 18 at North Woodmere Park on Branch Boulevard.

Baldwin: Sunday, November 8 at Baldwin Park garage on Grand Avenue.

East Meadow: Saturday, December 5 at Eisenhower Park, Field #3, between Hempstead Turnpike and Merrick Avenue.

For more information or to obtain written material on the Town of Hempstead's S.T.O.P Program, call the recycling section of the Department of Sanitation at 378-2200.

I urge you to take advantage of one of the many S.T.O.P. programs available in your local neighborhood. This initiative provides a great opportunity to take an active role in preserving our environment. Together, we are making the Town of Hempstead an even better place for our children and future generations.

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