Port Townsend hazardous waste facility to close

Staffing issues cited as reason

PORT TOWNSEND — The Household Hazardous Waste/Moderate Risk Waste Facility in Port Townsend will permanently close after Friday because of a staffing shortage, according to the Jefferson County Department of Public Works.

“Our last day of Moderate Risk Waste Facility operations will be Sept. 30 and after this date we will continue to offer this service with collection events outside of the Moderate Risk Waste Facility,” Public Works said in a news release.

The facility, at 282 10th St., Building 19, inside the Port of Port Townsend’s Boat Haven, had been slated for closure at the end of 2024, according to Al Cairns, Solid Waste manager for the department, but a dearth of staff forced an early closure.

“We had planned for this transition, but with our staffing issue, we just sped up the timeline,” Cairns said.

The department hopes to hold at least four collection events a year, rotating between Port Hadlock, Port Ludlow, Port Townsend and Quilcene, Cairns said.

Based on public response, there may be more such events.

The first collection will be Oct. 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Port Hadlock at the Road Maintenance Division building on Chimacum Road.

Previously, the facility in Port Townsend had been open every Friday and the first Saturday of every month, Cairns said, but starting in August, it became difficult to maintain that schedule.

Cairns said the county had tried to replace its own employees at the facility with contractors from the disposal company Public Works contracts with, Clear Harbors, Inc, but that company is also experiencing staffing issues.

The collection events held throughout the year will be run by Clear Harbors, Cairns said.

The Port of Port Townsend leases the site to the county at no cost, Cairns said, but the port is looking to use the space, and the lease agreement was amended earlier this year to have the county vacate the site by Dec. 31, 2024.

Public Works has had difficulty recruiting, Cairns said, and several retirements in the division have come up.

Cairns said the department’s staffing issues were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and he called the current recruitment market, “the most horrible job market I’ve seen.”

The Oct. 15 event will be for residential customers only, Cairns said.

The county plans to set up additional collection dates for businesses, which often have different materials and quantities.

Cairns said the department was working on public outreach to businesses regarding those collection dates.

On Friday — the last day of operations — the waste facility will be open from 10 a.m. to noon and from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. A list of accepted and unacceptable items can be found at the Solid Waste Division’s website, jeffersoncountysolidwaste.com.

Accepted items include gasoline and other fuels, household cleaners, pesticides, herbicides and aerosol sprays. Unaccepted items include ammunition, car and alkaline batteries and latex paints.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at psegall@soundpublishing.com.

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