Story Summary

Seattle’s garbage on way to Kittitas County?

A plan to get rid of some of Seattle’s garbage in Kittitas County is sparking controversy and concern among residents near Cle Elum. The initial plan was for the compost to end up on an 80-plus acre lot near Cle Elum, 95 miles from Seattle.  But other sites are now under consideration. But the residents of Kittitas County worry that the potential fire danger at a new compost facility isn’t worth the risk.

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Local News

Will it stink? Seattle considers biweekly trash pick up

SEATTLE — To some it’s a sign of the times. To others, it’s a stinky proposition.

Seattle is one step closer to switching trash pick-up from weekly to every other week.

On Tuesday, the Libraries, Utilities, and Seattle Center Committee agreed to keep the biweekly proposal alive and move it along to the full council.

Proponents of the deal say it’s a move that would cut down on truck traffic and save money. But there is certainly mixed reaction to putting trash cans out just once every 14 days.

“It could save us about 5 to 6 million dollars a year, which is not insignificant,” said Tim Croll, Seattle Public Utilities’ director.

photoSPU ran a pilot program last year in several Seattle neighborhoods, and 63 percent of those who participated in the pilot program said they were satisfied with biweekly trash pick-up. But there were concerns the pick up could cause a stench, especially in the summer months.

“There could be some odors coming up that you don’t want to live next to for two weeks at a time,” Daylan Rhea, a Seattle resident, said. “Compost, food and diapers, any other weird things you might throw out.”

Some are also worried about rats and other rodents. But SPU figures biweekly pick-up would lead to an increase in recycling and actually reduce garbage in the city by 25 percent. Several cities, including Renton and Olympia, have already made the switch.

Seattle resident Charlie Meconis said if it means less truck traffic, he could get used to it too.

“We’ve really worked hard to lower our garbage level, so i think we would survive with it and probably as time goes by we would wonder, was it ever weekly?”


kittitasSEATTLE — The Seattle City Council approved an ordinance Monday to allow an organic waste-disposal contract with the company PacifiClean Environmental, which plans to transport it over the Cascades and process the waste into compost in Kittitas County.

PacifiClean came under criticism recently from residents of Kittitas County near Cle Elum, where the company planned to process the waste on a 80-plus acre lot. The residents contended it would be a fire risk in an area that was devastated by wildfires last summer and fall.

After the criticism, PacificClean said it would find an alternate site in Kittitas County, with the advice of county officials.

It noted that the Seattle City Council ordinance approved Monday said the following:

“The Seattle City Council has heard the concerns of residents of Kittitas County and expects that in developing its new facility, PacifiClean will work with Kittitas County, the Washington Department of Ecology and other regulatory agencies to mitigate environmental impacts of organics processing services.

“PacifiClean has agreed to select a site that 1) is outside of the Mountains-to-Sound Greenway, 2) is without a significant amount of timber, 3) is outside areas designated as high or extreme fire hazard, 4) is surrounded by compatible industrial uses with a minimum of residential housing, 5) has little or no downwind development, 6) is not proximate to waterways, 7) has adequate infrastructure to accommodate truck trips, and 8) has limited to no view impacts”

The ordinance noted that operational changes authorized by the new proposed processing services contracts will allow the city to reduce costs and save ratepayers’ money by having contractors haul the city’s organic waste. Additionally, the Seattle City Council noted their desire to preserve employment opportunities for Seattle Public Utilities employees that would be displaced from implementing its new contracts.

compostSEATTLE — A waste-processing company said Friday it is ditching its controversial plan to ship Seattle’s garbage to the Elk Heights area of Kittitas County for composting, but that it is considering other areas for building its plant.

Residents and county officials had opposed the plan by PacificClean Environmental to build a processing facility in the Elk Heights area, which had been ravaged by wildfires last summer. Residents said they opposed it because of the possible fire hazard it would pose.

PacifiClean announced Friday in a letter sent to Kittitas County that it was withdrawing  its application to build the processing facility in the Elk Heights area.

“Our intent is to be a good neighbor, a good employer and a good member of the business community of Kittitas County,” said Larry Condon, PacifiClean partner and general manager. “As the permitting process moved forward, we determined that the best path forward is to review selected alternate sites in order to secure the optimal location to build the region’s most environmentally advanced organics processing facility.”

A company spokeswoman declined to identify which alternative sites were under consideration.

In a recent letter to PacifiClean from Doc Hansen, a planning official for Kittitas County, PacifiClean said Hansen indicated that “there are over 400 acres of industrial land within Kittitas County” and that “would not have the same environmental impact as upon the site that has been chosen.”

In response, Condon indicated that “PacifiClean has engaged in further discussions with Kittitas County and has identified three alternative sites that are not within the Elk Heights area”

“All of the alternative sites should eliminate the environmental and logistical impacts, as well as the Kittitas County and community concern,” Condon said. “We expect to utilize a sizable portion of the previously submitted materials and to remain on track, and on schedule, for the permitting and construction of the facility. We look forward to to working with the Kittitas County officials on bringing this enterprise to their community.”
The Seattle City Council may award its garbage-processing contract to PacfiClean as early as Monday.

By Steve Kiggins

Q13 FOX News

CLE ELUM, Wash. — A plan to get rid of some of Seattle’s garbage in Kittitas County is sparking controversy and concern among residents near Cle Elum.

The compost could end up on an 80-plus acre lot near Cle Elum, 95 miles from Seattle. And the people in this area worry the potential fire danger at a new compost facility isn’t worth the risk.

“The prospect of a smelly, noxious, stinking dump in the center of a favorite recreational area just seems really an awful fit,” said Carl Nelson, of the grass-roots community action group KittitasClean.

compostNelson is still getting over the terrifying images of wildfires that ravaged the Sunrise development last year and he wants to be careful of any fire danger near his home.

“We have everything at stake here, this is our home,” Nelson said.

The city of Seattle is considering awarding a company, PacifiClean Environmental, a contract to transfer waste over Snoqualmie Pass and into a soon-to-be compost yard in Kittitas County.

Nelson worries that could spell disaster if smoldering compost got out of hand.

Kittitas County District 1 Fire Chief  D.J. Evans worries the facility could overheat, putting a small community in a direct path of fire danger.

“This particular site is right in a wind tunnel. The wind, which is unpredictable up here and blows all the time and gets very extreme, it can suck up any embers and pull it into the air and it can make it travel 100 yards, 500 yards into the trees,”  Evans said.

“Fire season last year burned 14 homes in our neighborhood and it still leaves us pretty skittish. The whole idea of this facility, a mile and a half from us, that’s known to have a hot source that can combust — it`s just a matter of when,” said Nelson.

But PacifiClean says they`re ready to mitigate any potential fire hazard.

“The fire suppression system that we`ll have is going to consist of nine hydrants – water tanks, 35,000-gallon water tanks,” said Larry Condon, general manager of PacifiClean.

Scorched trees from last year`s wildfires still dot the landscape, and Evans worries that the compost facility is too big a risk for western Kittitas County.

“It was a really bad, fast moving fire in the wind … and this here potential monster,  if it was to get away, it would do the same thing again,” Evans said.

The Seattle City Council could approve their contract with PacifiClean as early as Monday.