Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Solid waste group to learn how much waste landfill handles annually


September 24, 2020

The borough’s Solid Waste Working Group is preparing to meet with Community Waste Solutions manager Craig Franke to get concrete information about how much waste is going to the landfill as it continues to address solid waste concerns.

The group, recently reconvened by the assembly after a two-year hiatus, is working to prioritize issues such as bear attractants, illegal dumping and making access to garbage disposal more convenient and less costly.

Working group member Darsie Culbeck said the root problem of issues like illegal dumping comes down to cost. Mixed solid waste costs 37 cents a pound compared to about 25 cents three years ago.

“It’s just so expensive to go to the landfill that people are choosing to throw their garbage in the river. It’s a forty-eight percent increase in four years,” Culbeck said. “Nobody even says anything about it. Anywhere else you saw a 48 percent increase, if it was gas at the pump or bread at the store, they’d be freaking out.”

Working group member Reilly Kosinski agreed that high cost was the major cause of garbage issues in town and that going through CWS’s books would help the group move forward with better solutions.

“It’d be pretty awesome to look at some of their numbers and see how things are going operationally,” Kosinski said. “It seems like there has to be some relationship between the borough and the trash company. We probably have some of the highest trash rates. There needs to be some sort of safeguard in place, some sort of relationship between that utility and the borough so everyone’s getting a fair shake.”

Riley said questions he has for CWS would be how much tonnage is coming in annually, which company they’re using for disposal, how many shipments they’re making, the life expectancy of the landfill, how they handle the materials that aren’t shipped out of town and what potential they have to handle more than what they have now.

Working group member Burl Sheldon said CWS might be more willing to share the information without a competing trash service. He said supplementing the cost of self-haul is critical “whether it’s operating a transfer station or offering a much higher level of access and putting it into the realm of publicly funding a fraction of it, making self-hauling convenient and inexpensive and seeing where that gets us in two to five years.”

The group asked Kosinski to speak with Franke so the landfill manager could prepare a presentation to the working group at its next meeting.

Manager Franke told the CVN he’d be willing to show the group how much waste came to the landfill in 2019, broken down by category in an effort to help the group understand how much waste the landfill deals with.

“I don’t know if they really have the full picture here at what volumes they’re looking at doing versus the money they thought it would take to do it,” Franke said of estimated costs to run a municipal program.

The group created a 2017 report that listed problems such as expensive disposal costs, illegal dumping, inadequate access to convenient disposal services and infrequent options for disposal of hazardous waste. It advocated for an up to 1% sales tax increase to pay for municipal management.

Borough staff wrote a draft ordinance that would have provided for the regulation, operation and management of a municipal solid waste program, but it was voted down twice by the assembly, once in 2018 and again in 2019.


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