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Compost plant request dropped

By Mike Johnston
Daily Record
Firm will look at locations other than Elk Heights

PacifiClean Environmental withdrew its application to build a compost plant in the Elk Heights area on Friday, saying it would review alternative sites instead.

“Our intent is to be a good neighbor, a good employer and a good member of the business community of Kittitas County,” Larry Condon, PacifiClean Environmental of Washigton partner and general manager, said in a news release. “As the permitting process moved forward, we determined that the best path forward is to review selected alternate sites.”


Condon, contacted Friday, said PacifiClean is examining at least four other sites, some within Kittitas County and others outside the county. He said the sites had been identified previously, but are being more closely studied. He declined to indicate their location.

He said there was no target date set by the company to settle on a new site.

PacifiClean withdrew a conditional use permit application to Kittitas County to process food, yard waste and municipal sewer biosolids at a $35 million facility off Thorp Prairie Road.

The site is about 15 miles northwest of Ellensburg and about eight miles southeast of Cle Elum.

In the news release, Condon said the company is in further discussions with county staff. PacifiClean is looking at alternative sites that are not within the Elk Heights area.

“All of the alternative sites should eliminate the environmental and logistical impacts, as well as the Kittitas County and community concerns,” Condon said in the news release.


Representatives of a growing citizen-based group opposed to the site northwest of Ellensburg, KittitasClean, expressed jubilation at the Spokane company’s decision to end its consideration of the Elk Heights location.

“A great community movement has been successful,” said Carl Nelson, a member of KittitasClean living in Sunlight Waters, on Friday. “They (PacifiClean) have realized that the site is fraught with peril and unmitigatable problems.”

Nelson said many of those opposing the site live in Sunlight Waters, two miles west of the proposed, industrial-sized composting facility. More than 70 area residents against the site attended a Monday community meeting at Sunlight Waters to hear information about the permitting process from Kittitas County Planning Official Robert “Doc” Hansen.

The group is still planning to attend a 2 p.m. Monday meeting of the Seattle City Council during which the Council will consider approving a $4 million contract to give much of its city-collected organic wastes to PacifiClean.

Nelson said the opposition group was planning to bring 100 people to the meeting from Kittitas County, but he said he’s not sure how many will attend given PacifiClean’s withdrawal of its permit application for the Elk Heights site.

“I would think the Council would be well advised to consider the situation,” Nelson said. “Should they award a contract to a company that may not be able to perform what they say they will?”

Nelson mentioned that Seattle now sends its organic wastes to the Cedar Grove composting facility but that ends in 2014 when PacifiClean and another firm will get the wastes.

“We (KittitasClean) will remain engaged and vigilent in staying on top of what PacifiClean is doing and looking hard into any new locations they may pick,” Nelson said.

Next steps

The Seattle City Council’s annual contract with PacifiClean would send 60 percent of the city’s waste to Kittitas County. The remaining 40 percent would go to an existing plant near Stanwood, the Seattle Times reported earlier this week.

Condon said county government officials have indicated there are more than 400 acres of industrial land within Kittitas County where a compost plant would not have the same level of environmental impacts as the Elk Heights site.

PacifiClean’s news release indicated the firm still has hopes to break ground in summer of 2013 and be operational in spring of 2014, with an anticipated 45 new jobs at full build-out of the facility, expected in two years.

Kittitas County land-use planning officials, contacted Friday, said they had yet to formally receive word from PacifiClean that it was withdrawing its application.

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