The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

 
 

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

No choice on metal pit salvaging

Public works directors says recyclers not only problem

 

Valdez Star photo

Recycler Kenneth Bottcher is leading a push back on a new city policy that is restricting public access to the metal pit, which many residents use to salvage metals and other valuable recyclables.

Last month, Larry Weaver, public works director for Valdez, said criticism regarding the policy that requires a city employee be present when members of the public salvage recyclables from the metal pit at the landfill is unfortunate - and misunderstood.

“We’re trying to make this as painless on people as we can,” Weaver said. “Personally, I’d like to see things recycled through there. We’re trying to work with the folks. ”

Weaver has found himself in the middle of a storm, pitting himself between regulations set by the Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) and salvagers who used to enjoy almost unimpeded access to valuable recyclables at the city’s metal pit.

Weaver says while it is true that ADEC did not specifically order the city to close the metal pit gates to recyclers, it did give the city three choices on how to address deficiencies found at the pit that violated ADEC rules that effectively gave the city no choice but to limit access to the area.

“It was the city’s choice of the lesser of evils,” Weaver said.

Valdez Star photo

A junked pickup truck, old refrigerator and more sat outside the gates of the metal pit last November.

An inspection by ADEC that was conducted for a renewal of the city’s three-year permit noted a number of deficiencies which caused the regulatory agency to rate the city in the low 80s, down from its usual high 90s rating. The inspection revealed hazardous materials dumped at the site inappropriately, and consequently the materials are deemed harmful to the public.

The conditions imperiled the city’s permitted ability to dispose of asbestos in the least expensive fashion.

Weaver said the solid waste department is reviewing its policies to better accommodate metal recycling by salvagers and will have a part-time employee on had this summer to monitor the metal pit, amongst other duties.

“We’re working towards that,” Weaver said.

 

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