Alternatives sought for green waste disposal
For 25 years area residents have been hauling their yard waste to Sierra Pacific Industries, sometimes filling an area the size of a football field with pine needles, leaves and yard clippings.
But that practice ended Nov. 24 — at least temporarily — while SPI builds its new sawmill.
The program’s closure has left local officials scrambling to offer the public both short-term and long-term alternatives.
Public Works Director Bob Perreault and Supervisor Lori Simpson are spearheading the effort, with the full board of supervisors scheduled to discuss the issue Dec. 10.
The pair met Nov. 26 with SPI plant manager Chris Skinner, who explained why the mill couldn’t continue collecting green waste. The equipment that is used to process the waste had been attached to the old mill and was removed to accommodate the work zone. It won’t be operational during the project and Skinner said that the new mill plans didn’t include the equipment, which he said was an oversight.
However, Skinner said that SPI could accept green waste that had been processed.
“If it’s processed to chip size, they would take it,” Perreault said. But that can be an expensive process.
During an interview last week, Skinner said that it costs $400 per hour to operate the grinder that is required to process the materials.
Sierra Pacific and Waste Management, the local garbage franchise operator, have shared the cost of processing green waste at the mill.
In addition to accepting household waste, Skinner said that SPI has worked with the school district and Feather River College, as well as commercial gardeners, to accommodate their needs. While the waste is used to help power the boilers at SPI, the program has evolved to be more of a service to the community.
“It has become very popular,” Skinner said.
What are the options?
Currently there are few options.
Green waste can be transported to the transfer station in East Quincy, where standard charges apply.
A compact truck loaded flush costs $20.23. A standard truckload is $24.71, and $30.93 if it isn’t flush with the sides of the truck. A cubic yard is charged at $17.44.
Officials fear that residents might resort to dumping yard debris in the forest, but that could result in fines on Forest Service land and trespassing charges on private land.
Burning is banned in Quincy and East Quincy, but burning is allowed on the outskirts of town. Burn permits are not required until May 1, 2014, but burning is allowed only on permissible days. For recorded burn information, call 283-3602. For answers to other burn questions, call the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District at 832-0102.
Supervisor Simpson said a group has discussed the possibility of composting the green waste, but “I don’t think they realize the enormity of it.”
She said that the county might solicit requests for proposals from entities interested in providing a service to deal with yard debris.
When asked if curbside green waste collection could be an option, as it is in urban areas, Perreault said that it’s expensive, just as curbside recycling is.
“Our challenge is a small customer base in a large geographical area,” Perreault said.
Around the county
While Quincy residents have enjoyed free green waste disposal, others around the county have been paying to rid their property of debris.
In Chester, Collins Pine accepts green waste on Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to noon. The charge is $3 per cubic yard.
According to data collected by the air quality district, Collins Pine collected and processed 5,000 tons of green waste to fuel its boilers last year.
Chester residents can also take green waste to the transfer station, where normal rates apply.
Greenville residents also have the transfer station option.
Residents in the Graeagle Fire Protection District can take their green waste (excluding lawn clippings) to Graeagle Land and Water. Charges range from $10 to $20 depending on the size of the pickup load.
Formerly the waste was then taken to the cogeneration facility in Loyalton, but since that plant has closed, the material is burned under a permit issued by the air quality district.
Green waste, excluding pine needles, can be taken to the transfer station in Graeagle, where standard rates apply.
Delleker area residents can take their green materials to a transfer site. In Portola, InterMountain Disposal burns green waste at the old Portola landfill under a permit issued by the air quality district.