Michael McNickle

Michael McNickle, the county's public health director,

A hazardous waste facility is expected to open this May.

Earlier this week, Clatsop County broke ground on the 1,600 square-foot facility next to the Astoria Transfer Station on Williamsport Road.

The facility will let residents and some small businesses drop off hazardous waste. The project, which has been in the works since 2009, was originally prompted by the fact there are few options on the coast for people to dispose of dangerous materials.

The county will contract with Clean Harbors, a company which specializes in handling and removing hazardous waste, to staff the operation.

The facility is required to be open at least eight times a year, said Michael McNickle, the county's public health director, but will likely be open more frequently.

“There’s a pent-up need here,” McNickle said. “We haven’t had any hazardous waste events for at least four years.”

The project has taken a while due in part to the time it takes to acquire special permits through the state Department of Environmental Quality to run a hazardous waste facility, McNickle said. Engineering a special system to capture methane gas from a former landfill at the site also had to be considered.

The project will cost more than $1.1 million, which is mostly being supported by loans and a grant. A $1.50 per ton fee increase at the transfer station, which is expected to generate about $175,000 a year, will also help pay for operations.

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