Dear Council,I am delighted you renegotiated Orcas Recycling Services to head the Orcas transfer station. My hope is you will reconsider contracting with Kentec since Waste Management will continue on a short-term basis to haul on San Juan Island. If haulage cost is high, consider contracting with the Town of Friday Harbor. It's self-haul and packer truck saved Town residents almost $100/ton taking material direct to Skagit including overtime for driver & ferry fare.
Kentec has 4-5 plants worldwide & wants a US demonstration project. With SJI’s LOW volume, including sludge & yard waste commingled for a better burn, the company’s interest is questionable. Especially with proposal ten years in future on combined County-Town parcels at Sutton Road & a 20-year payoff. Would 3 million taxpayer dollars to secure USDA loan on a South Korean plant be better spent elsewhere? On US firms? Due diligence is in order. If something’s wrong with inter-locking series of companies, are local taxpayers left on hook for liability or actual cleanup costs? A 2009 Friends of Earth paper raises red flags about the Plasma Arc Gasification process:
1) Water is a precious resource on island -- how much is needed for washing, for what will it be used and where will it go after what type of treatment;
2) Will need for burn material undermine recycling, reuse and recovery goal of 50/50 by 2020;
3) What happens to toxic ash residue – landfilled toxins can migrate to water sources.
Located in Mt Vernon, Lautenbach Industries has a good reputation and its own material recovery & recycling facility. Why not contract with them directly? Save sub-contracting costs.
Balkanization of Solid Waste among three districts may hinder economies of scale at the same time as opening the process to ideas, invention & ingenuity -- traditional strengths of islanders. Lopez & Orcas appear to have more citizen involvement and to be making greener choices than San Juan. Given anger over 1.3 million dollar purchase at the Beaverton Valley site and one plus million dollars in accrued debt, the excise tax designed to pay down County debt in a few years is exorbitant & extreme, particularly as part of the for-profit cash flow model in private industry.
The tax is almost 20% when calculated on cost per ton: Self-haul $61.25/$312.50 = 19.6%!
All commercial haulers will pay this to three Solid Waste Districts which funds will go to County; the Town of Friday Harbor will pay 3%. Given a choice, or several as with recent County Charter changes, would placing measures on upcoming ballot be a sane economic alternative? Citizens supported a tax of $25 per parcel, developed and undeveloped, for infrastructure to benefit all islanders. Council killed support with a $100/parcel tax on developed parcels, only. A plain language measure could ask for a $25 tax on all parcels for 5 years to waive excise tax.
Citizens could be asked to reconsider County managing Solid Waste. A strong tradition exists for this essential public service. Local employment benefits the island economy. Money now allocated to private profit could underwrite recycling. Local control and management of transfer stations may be the best safeguard for responsible, affordable disposal. What is the hurry when several months delay allows for change in government and public participation for collective answers?
San Juan Island