Farmers give water firm six tonnes of unwanted chemicals for free disposal

United Utilities has safely disposed of nearly six tonnes of chemicals during the four years it has been offering farmers in Cheshire and North Wales a free pesticides and poisons amnesty service.

The water firm says that since the scheme was launched in 2016 it has resulted in the removal of some extremely dangerous substances from the environment ensuring they can never be spilled or poured down drains and end up polluting rivers and canals.

United Utilities’ catchment advisor, Veronika Moore, said: “We have worked with a collection company to allow them to dispose of chemicals stored in containers where the label has become obscured, or ones that have been decanted into other containers.

“Farmers can get rid of that unknown bottle or jar of chemical lurking in the back of their store happy in the knowledge it will be correctly disposed of.

“I would encourage people to carefully and safely check sheds and outbuildings for old stocks of illegal substances. If you are, or think you may be, in possession of illegal pesticides, please contact your local catchment adviser and arrange for disposal so that together we can protect drinking water quality and the environment across our region.”

It is illegal to store or use unapproved or out of date pesticides. However, many farmers have stores of chemicals that they couldn’t use before the pesticide license expired, or went out of date, or have some chemicals where they are unsure what they are anymore. It is difficult and costly for farmers to legally dispose of these chemicals which is why United Utilities offers its free and confidential pesticide and poisons amnesty scheme in the drinking water safeguard zones.

The Environment Agency has designated ten drinking water safeguard zones in and around Cheshire. These zones are drinking water catchments where water quality in rivers, boreholes or groundwater is deteriorating and is becoming harder to treat, due to human activities on the land. Safeguard zones can be used to target measures, advice and incentive schemes for landowners and managers to help improve water quality.

All agricultural and horticultural products are accepted for disposal including unlabelled or unknown products and those with a MAPP, MAFF, PSPS or ACAS registration number.

Some of the illegal chemicals that have been collected and disposed of confidentially and free of charge include: Aldrin; Chlorothalonil; Chlorpyrifos; Chlorsulfuron; Cyanides (Cymag); Demeton-S-methyl; Ioxynil; Isoproturon; Lindane; Linuron; Mecoprop; Propachlor.