- Associated Press - Friday, May 20, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A North Dakota program that collects people’s unwanted insecticides and other chemicals for free is so popular that it’s running low on money and won’t be able to accept as much as it did last year.

Still, officials say the Project Safe Send program remains a valuable resource nearly a quarter century after it was introduced.

The program for unwanted or unusable herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides and fungicides has been around since 1992 but has seen a surge in interest in recent years. A string of four consecutive years of record collections culminated last year, when 192 tons of chemicals were shipped to incinerators in Illinois and Texas for disposal. The state Agriculture Department credits more public awareness of the program, with the help of North Dakota State University spreading the word.

The program is funded through fees that pesticide manufacturers pay to register their products in North Dakota. It gets $650,000 every two-year budget cycle, according to Jeremiah Lien, the department’s pesticide outreach specialist. Demand was heavier than expected last year, with collections up 28 percent from 2014, and more than two-thirds of the allocation was used up. That leaves less available for this summer’s round of collections.

“Due to limited funding, a maximum of 3,000 pounds of pesticides per participant will be accepted, with sites remaining operational until funding is depleted,” Lien said.

Last year’s cap was nearly seven times higher, at 20,000 pounds per person. Collections were scheduled in a dozen cities, compared to 10 this summer.

The program is open to farmers, ranchers, pesticide dealers and applicators, government agencies and homeowners.

“Over the past 24 years, thousands of people have brought more than 4 million pounds of these chemicals to Project Safe Send,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said.

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Online:

Collection schedule: https://1.usa.gov/1XEtjql

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