By Paul Ploumis (ScrapMonster Author)
May 06, 2016 07:33:36 PM
ALBANY (Scrap Monster): The era of free disposal of electronic waste in Cattaraugus County may be about to come to an end.
Cattaraugus County Public Works Department officials have expressed concern over the skyrocketing cost of recycling e-waste, Legislators took no action during committee meetings Wednesday.
E-waste is accepted without charge as a recyclable at all county refuse transfer stations. E-waste like CRT monitors, printers, copiers cost the county more than $60,000 last year. Flat-screen TVs and monitors go into the same scrap heap as computers and VCRs, which earns the county 2 cents a pound.
If the e-waste is segregated, wrapped and delivered to the buyer, the county only has to pay 10 cents a pound, said solid waste coordinator Linda McAndrew. Otherwise, the buyer will collect it in bulk for between 20 cents and 35 cents a pound.
The Solid Waste Division proposed restricting e-waste drop-off to the former Five Points and Farwell landfill sites in Mansfield and Ischua, respectively. Both sites have existing buildings that could be used to store the e-waste. Collection would be limited to one weekday at each facility.
McAndrew said Public Works Department officials recognized the loss of convenience of free disposal at the nearest transfer station, but to keep disposal free the landfill drop-offs were being recommended. Both landfills are centrally located for residents of the western section and eastern section of the county, she said.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has warned county officials that buildings being used to store the e-waste at some refuse transfer stations are not suitable.
“We have to remove the structures or face a fine,” McAndrew explained.
Public Works Commissioner Joseph Pillittere said an option with steel collection trailers dedicated to e-waste at the three transfer stations where storage is needed would cost $10,000 each.
In addition, some structures at the refuse transfer stations would be subject to building permits as well as a possible annual state inspection fee costing between $500 and $750, Pillittere said.
Legislator David Koch, D-Salamanca, vice chairman of the Public Works Committee, said he was concerned that if there was no convenient disposal available, a lot of the CRTs would end up along the back roads or in the woods.
“The working guy is not going to go up there on a Wednesday or a Thursday,” said Legislator Dan Hale, R-Portville.
Koch suggested looking at a $5 or $10 fee for disposal of e-waste. At $10 for each item of e-waste, the county would raise an additional $33,000, he said.
Legislator Joseph Snyder, R-Ischua, suggested $10 for small e-waste items and $20 for big items. “I don’t think people are going to take it to Farwell and Five Points,” he added.
As Koch pressed for including charges to dispose of the e-waste, Legislator Barbara Hastings, D-Allegany, said she worried that illegal dumping would increase if the county started charging for e-waste.
Pillittere noted that if the county charged a fee for recycling electronics, the state would not include that waste toward the county’s recycling targets.
A resolution to buy the steel roll-off containers for e-waste where needed and to begin charging for e-waste disposal is expected to come back to the committee in two weeks.
The Public Works Committee also reviewed a proposal to contract with Wendel, an architecture, engineering, planning, energy services and construction management firm from Buffalo, for a report on the historic Stone House in Machias. It houses the Cattaraugus County Museum and other offices.
Director of Engineering Mark Burr said Wendel had proposed a $54,000 fee for a report on work needed at the Stone House and construction inspection services. It would be up to legislators to decide how much exterior work to do, he said. There may be up to $500,000 worth of work needed, including cleaning the stone exterior; repairing; pointing and sealing stone mortar joints; painting; replacing sidewalks; and demolishing and replacing the concrete deck.
Legislator Richard Lambert, D-Allegany, reminded lawmakers how much had already been spent on the Stone House. Original estimates for renovations were in the $400,000 range but ballooned to $1.2 million.
“We’re stuck with this, folks. Let’s not make the same mistake,” he said in apparent reference to the controversial Civil War Memorial and Historic Building in Little Valley, which some are trying to preserve.