Sept. 8, 2002 – If you're a do-it-yourself person who changes the oil in your vehicles yourself, an opportunity is about to present itself for you to get rid of those containers of used motor oil — and, in addition, feel good about it. There will be used motor-oil recycling drives on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John in the next several weeks.
The Planning and Natural Resources Department's Environmental Protection Division, in cooperation with the Public Works Department and the V.I. Energy Office, is sponsoring the drives. Public Works is under orders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to plan for and deal with solid waste, and DPNR's Environmental Protection Division has a grant to conduct a public education program. The two needs have meshed for this first drive.
Those who were on the islands in the aftermath of Hurricane Marilyn may recall the regular Saturday morning hazardous waste drop-offs staffed by the U.S. Coast Guard that continued through December on St. Thomas and St. Croix. Such materials were collected at the landfills, eventually to be transported off island.
To many residents, it was a relief to get old paint and thinners, leftover tile glue, used oil, old batteries, brake fluid, used cooking oil and other such materials off their premises and headed to a destination other than the Virgin Islands' overloaded, seeping landfills.
The coming drives are exclusively for used motor oil, DPNR's Clanicia Pelle stressed. Not brake fluid, not transmission fluid, not gasoline additives, not anything other than used motor oil.
And there are some restrictions even on that, according to a DPNR release. The used oil should be stored in the original container or a cleaned plastic bottle with a secure cap, such as a milk jug. Used oil stored in containers that formerly contained bleach, detergent, or car or household chemicals will not be accepted, as residues can contaminate the used oil product headed for recycling, the release said.
Additionally, DPNR and Public Works will collect no more than five gallons of used motor oil per person.
Government officials are hoping to hold drives for other hazardous materials in the future and to continue the motor oil collection as a sustainable "Used Oil Management Program," a release stated.
The collection schedule:
St. Croix – Saturday, Sept. 14, at Sunny Isle Shopping Center.
St. Thomas – Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Fort Christian parking lot.
St. John – Saturday, Oct. 5, at Cruz Bay Park.
Collection on all three days will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and during that time there also will be educational outreach via displays and handouts about the environmental damage that results from improper waste-oil disposal, along with entertainment and prizes.
While do-it-yourselfers may rationalize that dumping just one little oil change can't do that much harm, multiply that by all the do-it-yourselfers who do their one little job on any given weekend, and it becomes a big, hazardous community problem.
For more information, call Pelle in the Environmental Protection Division on St. Croix, 773-1082.

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