CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The county recycling center on Slack Street will close Friday, City Council members learned Monday evening, leaving Charleston, three other municipalities, and hundreds of homeowners with few options.Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority board members agreed Monday morning to close the aging recycling facility at 600 Slack St. after consultants told them it would cost $1.5 million to make the processing building there meet minimum safety standards."It's awful," said board member and Councilwoman Kasey Russell. "We thought there was going to be a fix. They are closing as of Friday. There's no public drop off after Thursday, but we're looking for options for the cities."Charleston, South Charleston, Dunbar and St. Albans all bring recycled items to the Slack Street center, which accepts a wide variety of goods -- paper, cardboard, plastics, glass and metals. All but Dunbar are required by state law to recycle at least four items.The center also takes used televisions, computers and other electronic devices collectively known as e-waste, although it has to pay to get rid of it, Russell said.For several years, board members have been hoping to build a modern recycling center but, so far, have been unable to find a suitable site. They recently hired a team of consultants -- local architects ZMM and Hatch Mott McDonald, a national engineering firm -- to check the processing facility at Slack Street.The news wasn't good, Russell said. "It's got holes in parts of the floor and in the ceiling. The main issue was combustible dust coming from paper and glass, and there's no proper ventilation."So the board decided to close operations immediately to protect workers. Director Norm Steenstra will try to find a short-term solution this week, she said.
The closing of Slack Street in effect leaves the four cities, as well as private residents, on their own."We have other places we can take it," Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said. He mentioned Nitro, home to a commercial recycling center. "Maybe they'll pay us a little something for it. The market's a little better now."But that's not the long-term answer," Jones said. "It's too far to drive."In a related issue, Jones told members of council's Finance Committee that the company that operates the city landfill recently met with city leaders about e-waste."Our folks at Waste Management want to charge for recycling TVs and computers," he said. "We have to decide what to do, whether to play hardball. We're going to have to deal with that."Councilman Ed Talkington, chairman of the council's Environment & Recycling Committee, huddled with group members after the council meeting Monday to discuss the crisis."At our last meeting, the concept of charging for e-waste was discussed," he said. "All these issues we're going to cover through our committee.
"If something comes up -- developments with Slack Street -- I'll call an emergency meeting."Russell reminded the group the city's been taking e-waste to Slack Street. "But as of Thursday we close. So it's an emergency."Reach Jim Balow at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5102.