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Task force targets recycling crisis

A task force made up of representatives from local government agencies and businesses met for the first time Wednesday to discuss how to solve Kanawha County's recycling crisis.

They hope to have a solution within 60 days.

The crisis began in March when the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority closed the building at its Slack Street recycling center because of structural issues and the discovery of combustible dust.

The closing caused the authority to cease processing recyclables on site, and the agency soon began to hemorrhage money.  

Matt Ballard, Charleston Area Alliance president and chief executive officer, said the 60-day timeframe was "very ambitious."

"This is the type of project that is important enough to set an aggressive timeframe," Ballard said.

"We have important work on our hands," Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy said.

Hardy facilitated the task force's creation.

Norm Steenstra is executive director of the authority but has resigned effective Sept. 26. He briefed task force members about events before and after the closing of the recycling center.

He told them a new "dream" recycling center would cost roughly $3.5 million.

He said he has a perfect site selected for a regional recycling center, 10 acres of land at the mouth of Campbells Creek near the Malden sewage treatment plant.

"That's about what it would cost to get the recycling center this county deserves," Steenstra said.

The dream facility would be about 120,000 square feet, he said.  

Boone and Clay counties have both expressed interest in bringing recyclables to a regional center in Kanawha, he said.

Task force members will meet once a week at the Charleston Area Alliance building on Smith Street. They'll discuss things like the feasibility of a public/private partnership.

Hardy asked Steenstra if he believed private recyclers would be interested in helping fund construction of a center if they could utilize the facility as well. Steenstra was skeptical this would happen.

"Private recyclers in the valley aren't cheering us on to succeed because we're in competition with them," Steenstra said.

The task force members will divide themselves into subgroups to discuss various aspects of the problem. The subgroups will be formed at the next meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday.    

Contact writer Paul Fallon at paul.fallon@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817.  Follow him at www.twitter.com/PaulBFallon.


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