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More people using new MRWF than expected

Photo: Travis Casey, solid waste assistant, empties old gas into a barrel at the Chelan County Moderate Risk Waste Facility. About 40 percent of the material collected at the facility is recycled. 

 

More than 26 tons of household hazardous waste has been collected since the beginning of the year at the new Chelan County Moderate Risk Waste Facility (MRWF).

That number averages to about 81.4 pounds per household, or 13 pounds more per household than what was anticipated when the facility first opened, said Brenda Blanchfield, solid waste manager for Chelan County Public Works.

“Those numbers tell us this facility was much needed in Chelan County,” Blanchfield said. “More than 26 tons of household hazardous waste has not only been removed from people’s homes but also diverted from our local landfills. If not properly disposed of, these materials have the potential to contaminate our water sources.”

Opened in December 2019, the 5,000-square-foot facility was built with a mix of state, county and city monies. The year-round facility serves as a drop-off location for citizens with household hazardous wastes such as antifreeze, gas, common cleaners, lawn and garden pesticides, motor oil, paint thinners and spray paints. It is packaged for shipment at the facility, and a contractor hauls the material away for safe disposal.

Tracking of the material brought into the facility shows the MRWF is averaging about 100 visitors a month. (The facility was closed for six weeks this spring because of COVID-19 concerns.) The majority of people using the facility are from Wenatchee (38 percent) and the unincorporated areas of Chelan County (35 percent). Other users are split among the communities of Chelan, Entiat, Leavenworth and Cashmere.

Breaking down the household hazardous waste, tracking shows that much of the material brought in is flammable or toxic, including:

  • 13,456 pounds of paint-related flammable liquids (oil-based paints, for example)
  • 11,220 pounds of used oil (motor and hydraulic)
  •  9,936 pounds of toxic flammable liquids (liquid pesticides, automotive fluids, linseed oil)
  •  6,400 pounds of flammable liquids (gas, diesel and kerosene)

Numbers also show that only 10 percent of the material collected was disposed of via incineration. The majority of the material was either recycled (40 percent) or used as an energy resource (48 percent) for incineration.

“About 2 percent of the material dropped off is only partially used and in good, clean condition,” Blanchfield said. “We place those containers on our free reuse cart. We encourage people to take a look through the cart, which includes everything from spray paint to motor oil to household pesticides.”

Chelan County Commissioner Bob Bugert said it is gratifying to see the many county residents who are taking advantage of the MRWF, a project that brings much value to Chelan County households and the community as a whole.  

“We have seen a strong response by people throughout the cities and unincorporated areas of the county,” Bugert said. “The Moderate Risk Waste Facility was a solid investment that will benefit Chelan County residents for many years to come.”

 

The MRWF is open three days a week, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. It is located at 3612 Highway 97A in Wenatchee. For more information, including a list of what is accepted at the facility, go to the facility's website.

Last Updated: 08/31/2020 03:09 PM

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