Alliance plans for household hazardous waste facility

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BENNINGTON — The Bennington County Solid Waste Alliance, a consortium of 13 local governments, has won a state grant that could support the establishment of a household hazardous waste collection facility at the Bennington Transfer Station off of Houghton Lane.

The $70,620 grant, awarded by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, would help to defray the estimated $119,400 cost of constructing the facility at the transfer station, according to a recent memo by Michael Batcher, a solid waste program manager with the Bennington County Regional Commission, which provides contracted support for the Alliance.

The memo suggests the potential facility could re-purpose a currently vacant, 200-square-foot concrete structure at the site "for processing and packaging materials and for storage of some materials requiring fire suppression." An adjacent storage shed "for materials and supplies not requiring fire suppression equipment" and "a fireproof building for storage of hazardous materials that would require such equipment" also would need to be constructed.

The facility would be open one day per week from May 1 to Oct. 31, according to the memo. It would cost about $90,500 annually to operate, a figure that includes $45,000 for disposal costs and $35,000 for a staff of two.

The facility would serve the estimated 35,000 residents and 2,000 businesses in the Alliance's service area, which includes the following municipalities: Arlington, Bennington, Dorset, Glastenbury, Manchester, Pownal, Rupert, Sandgate, Searsburg, Shaftsbury, Stamford, Sunderland and Woodford.

Member towns currently pay, based on population, to support the operations of the Alliance, which also receives support from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, according to the memo.

At present, the Alliance hosts two household hazardous waste disposal events each year, as required by the state. These events serve about 400 households per year — only about 2.75 percent of households in the Alliance's service area, which suggests "that more convenient access is needed," according to the memo.

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The twice-yearly events cost about $5,000 to $7,000 to organize and staff, according to the memo.

The Alliance eventually will need to hire a design firm "to specify the needed capital and operating components of the proposed facility," according to the memo, which anticipates necessary construction starting this year.

The project team would prepare signage and acquire equipment and supplies ahead of a projected May 2021 opening date, according to the memo.

The Alliance has also secured funding to establish an asphalt shingle collection facility at the transfer station by July 1, 2021, the memo states. Operating costs for that project "would be paid by contractors and roofing companies that bring shingles to the collection point."

Batcher said on Wednesday that the Alliance is in the process of finalizing the grant agreement with the state. It will also need to reach an agreement with the town, which owns the transfer station.

Bennington Town Manager Stu Hurd said that his sense is that the Select Board is not opposed to collecting household hazardous waste and shingles at the transfer station, though details still need to be discussed further with the Alliance.

Contact Luke Nathan at lnathan@benningtonbanner.com.


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