November 29, 2012 | Volume 42, No.48

Electric fence planned at landfill

Community Waste Solutions and the Alaska Chilkoot Bear Foundation are partnering up to construct an electric fence around the CWS building to deter bear activity around the landfill.

The fence will surround areas where bear-attractant waste is stored, including the 800-square-foot CWS building. Bear Foundation representative Richard Folta said electric fences have proved very effective in deterring bear activity in other areas.

“Once the bear gets a shot of high voltage – but it’s low amperage, so it doesn’t hurt humans – it doesn’t come back,” Folta said.

CWS spokesman Burl Sheldon said the building’s four entry points will also have electrified mats that will shock bears but not humans - unless they’re not wearing shoes. Heavy wooden posts will anchor the fence, he said.

Sheldon said the problem of bear attraction has been declining due to CWS efforts, but the fence project seeks to resolve it permanently.

Bears have ripped holes in the metal building, with one bruin causing $4,000 in damage after tearing a rolling door off its track. A bear that had been entering the facility during business hours when people were present was shot this year as well.

All materials that could attract animals, called “putrescible” waste, are currently kept inside the building, Sheldon said. The landfill only contains construction and demolition waste such as sheetrock and concrete.

The Haines Borough Assembly held a public hearing Tuesday night concerning an ordinance that would remove landfill material from a list of items not considered a bear attraction nuisance.

Borough representatives, the Bear Foundation and CWS agreed during an Oct. 8 meeting that a deterrent at the dump was necessary, so a recommendation was made to remove landfill material from the list of exceptions to the bear attraction nuisance code.

Mayor Stephanie Scott expressed her support of the electric fence plan and her appreciation for the teamwork involved in the effort.

Sheldon said the electric fence is one of several endeavors by CWS to come into compliance with Department of Environmental Conservation regulations. The company also is working to address regulatory issues with the landfill’s drainage.

CWS is undertaking “as aggressive a schedule the facility can possibly have to come back into compliance” with DEC regulations, Sheldon said.

A copy of CWS’s new compliance plan was sent to Sandra Woods at the DEC Nov. 26. Sheldon said the company will probably receive a response to the plan in a couple of weeks.