CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Charleston, South Charleston and St. Albans officials said their cities still will pick up recyclables left at the curb despite the announced closure of the Slack Street recycling center.
Dunbar city leaders are exploring whether or not to discontinue the service.
Unlike the other three cities, Dunbar has a population of fewer than 10,000 and is not required to operate a recycling program under state law.
The center will not accept recyclables from citizens or cities around the county after Thursday.
The four cities currently take their recyclables to the Slack Street center because they don't have recycling facilities of their own, said Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority Executive Director Norm Steenstra.
The Slack Street Center handles about 7,000 tons of recycled materials per year, he said.
Structural issues caused the authority to decide to close the facility at the end of the business day on Thursday.
The building, which is about 100 years old, has holes in the ceiling. The floors also are in shabby condition.
Combustible dust from poor ventilation prompted board members to close the facility because they feared for the safety of the public as well as the employees, Steenstra said.
Steenstra said he and other authority officials are looking for a solution.
"We want to minimize the adverse effects on the city and the public," Steenstra said.
"But this is going to take a couple of days to figure this out."
Monday's announcement that the center would be close has left cities scrambling.
"There are no plans to stop the curbside pickup," said Gary Taylor, director of Charleston Public Works. "We'll continue to recycle."
Taylor said he is looking at other places where he could haul the plastic, aluminum and paper recyclables picked up by the city. For-profit recyclers such as the one in Nitro could be utilized for a time, he said.
"This hit us quick," Taylor said. "We're still just trying to figure out our options."
The authority's board made the decision during an emergency meeting on Monday.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said the city may end up putting a piece of equipment at the Slack Street site to hold recycled materials until it can be hauled to another location. Jones said he and other city leaders were working closely with the authority to come up with a permanent solution.
"This is a fluid situation, and we're working on it," Jones said. "But I feel better about this now than I did an hour ago."
Charleston hauls between 1,080 and 1,200 tons of recyclables a year to the Slack Street center, Steenstra said.
Gerald Burgy, South Charleston Public Works director, echoed Taylor's statements. Like Charleston, South Charleston offers curb side pickup for recyclables.
"We're not going to change," Burgy said. "We're going to continue to pick up our recycling as always."
But South Charleston officials also are scrambling to find a drop-off spot.
Burgy said he could store some of the recyclables in the city for a few days until the city finds a recycler that can take the items.
Burgy said he is exploring whether or not it is feasible to take the recyclables to Rumpke Waste Inc. in Ashland, Ky. He is also exploring whether the recyclables could be taken to a recycling center in Beckley.
Although the two locations are much further from South Charleston than the Slack Street center, it may not be more expensive to haul the materials to those locations.
He said costs might not increase if South Charleston can haul the recyclables to Ashland or Beckley once a week instead of taking them to Charleston four times a week.