No site announced yet for Seattle food, yard waste

SEATTLE — A company that won a bid to start trucking a bulk of Seattle’s food and yard waste east of the Cascade Range in April still hasn’t told city officials where that plant will be located, but is looking outside Kittitas County after facing neighborhood opposition.

PacifiClean Environmental is contracted to start hauling about 60 percent of Seattle’s curbside food scraps and yard waste by April 1, under a $4 million-a-year contract signed last year.

The company had initially proposed siting the large-scale compost processing facility in Kittitas County, but has faced resistance from neighbors’ over concerns about odor and other issues. PacifiClean is now finalizing arrangements for a yet-undisclosed location in Central Washington.

“PacifiClean is not able to provide more details at this point, but expects to share information on their completed site agreement by January 31st and have operations that will receive waste for April 2014,” Seattle’s solid waste director Timothy Croll said in a Dec. 31 memo to two Seattle council members.

Messages left with the company in Spokane were not immediately returned.

The issue of where and how Seattle’s banana peels, grass clippings and weeds get recycled has been a thorny one.

Curbside composting has allowed Seattle last year to keep more than 90,000 tons of food and yard waste out of landfills, but the company currently contracted to process the bulk of Seattle’s organic waste has been the subject of hundreds of odor complaints and several citizen lawsuits.

Cedar Grove Composting Inc., which processes much of the region’s organic waste at recycling facilities in Everett and Maple Valley, decided not to renew its current contract with Seattle. That contract is set to expire March 31.

The Seattle-based company, however, has agreed to accept Seattle’s food and yard waste at its Maple Valley plant if the PacifiClean’s new facility isn’t completed when the contract starts in April.

Regulators with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency are currently studying odor issues in the Marysville and Everett area and trying to determine whether the stinky smells reported are coming from Cedar Grove or other sources in the area.

Odor-sensing monitors set up throughout the area have been collecting real-time information about the smells for the past year, said agency spokeswoman Joanne Todd.

The data collection is complete, and the agency will release a report in coming weeks once the data has been analyzed, Todd said.

The study “is going to help us understand what odors … are the problems that people are complaining about. It isn’t to increase finger pointing,” Todd said.

The recycling companies take organic residential and commercial waste from cities across the region and process it into compost and soil products used to enrich home gardens and farms.

Seattle signed another contract with Lenz Enterprises, Inc. to send about 40 percent of the city’s yard and food waste to a facility in Stanwood.

PacifiClean last year dropped plans to build a compost facility in two Kittitas county sites.

Croll, with Seattle, wrote in his recent memo that “PacifiClean continues to pursue alternate opportunities with the Kittitas County Solid Waste property and through acquiring a separate property in Central Washington for a future facility if needed.”

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