State Safety Consultant Visits SJI Transfer Station

Washington L&I Health and Safety Consultant John Moller (right) with Solid Waste Utility Manager Steve Alexander (To Moller’s immediate left) and other members of the county staff during his visit to the SJI transfer station.

San Juan County Solid Waste Utilities managers and employees accompanied State Labor and Industries (L&I) safety and health consultant John Moller on a two-hour tour of the San Juan Island Solid Waste Transfer Station on Tuesday. The County Solid Waste Utility requested the safety consultation in addition to reviews of the station’s operation by the Department of Ecology, after the Utility concluded that it may be three to five years before a replacement facility can become operational.

“We were anxious to have L&I’s experts work with us on safety concerns we already have and to help us identify other potential problems,” said Utilities manager Ed Hale.

Moller spent nearly two hours going over the site, focusing on falling hazards in the area of the tipping floor, signage and facilities hazards. The state consultant offered some immediate suggestions concerning equipment and labeling, and promised a written report including more specific recommendations within the next few weeks.

The L&I consultant’s visit was strictly advisory and will not trigger any enforcement action.

However, a Department of Ecology inspection in March identified problems that resulted in in a declaration that the transfer station is a “Significant Contributor of Pollutants” and it will be required to obtain an Industrial Stormwater General Permit. To qualify for that permit, the Utility expects to have to either make capital improvements to the system that handles stormwater that comes in contact with trash as it’s handled, or make significant changes in its operation.

The County is consulting with DOE representatives to set a schedule for obtaining the permit.