Soiled oil gets new life

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LaFOLLETTE—The Public Works Department is now accepting, and recycling, used motor oil from locals—for free. The motor oil fuels a furnace that heats the shop where public works vehicles and equipment are maintained.
“This is a public service where people can dispose of their used oil, but it is also a big energy savings for us,” Public Works Department Head Jim Mullins said. “It’s not just to allow people to dispose of their oil, but it also helps us to heat our shop.”
The public works department fueled the furnace with its own motor oil for about 10 years, Mullins said.
“But there has not been enough,” he said. “We’ve had to supplement gas heat.”
A $4,600 Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation grant has allowed for the construction of a drop off box—which has been operational since last week. People can drop their containers of oil into the receptacle at any time. But if they wish to keep their containers, they can bring them to the office 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday where a crew member will empty the containers into a storage tank before returning them.
“There, of course, is no charge for this service,” Mullins said.
The purpose of the TDEC grant is to stop pollution, Mullins said. Used motor oil is toxic to the environment, and TDEC and the LaFollette Public Works Department hope to utilize the community’s recycled motor oil instead of letting it be disposed of in potentially hazardous ways.
“That’s what its intended for,” Mullins said. “keep people from pouring it out.”
Campbell County
The Campbell County Sanitation Department also recycles used motor oil.
“We have a furnace to heat the shop that uses used motor oil,” said Walter Sutton, assistant director of the Campbell County Sanitation Department. “We’ve had it for a while.”
The Campbell County Sanitation Department fuels its furnace with motor oil brought to the recycling center on Towe String Road. County residents aren’t charged for the oil they bring to the center.
The sanitation department attempted to use a grant to expand the service to convenience centers across the county, but there wasn’t enough money to install the necessary equipment, Sutton said.
Local businesses
People can also dispose of their motor oil at local businesses—such as Walmart or AutoZone.
“Each of them has a limit on how much they will take,” Sutton said.
Walmart and AutoZone each collect up to five gallons of motor oil from customers—at no charge.
Knoxville-based Safety-Kleen collects oil from businesses in Campbell County—such as Lyk-Nu—which provides people with oil changes. Safety-Kleen usually doesn’t charge businesses for this service.
“We recycle the motor oil,” Safety Kleen General Manager Johnny Fell said.
Safety-Kleen refines the oil so it can be reused as motor oil.