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Household Hazardous Waste Facility to Open Next Year

CVSWMD employee Charen Fegard points to a stain left by 2023 floodwaters at the Additional Recyclables Collection Center in Barre. The collection center is slated to move to high ground in Berlin alongside a new household hazardous waste facility. Photo by Jenny Blair.
Legally disposing of dangerous household wastes such as pesticides, paint thinner, and car oil may soon get easier for central Vermonters. Starting in 2025, a facility at 300/302 Granger Road in Berlin is slated to offer year-round drop-off collection of these materials. 

If such wastes go down drains or into the trash, “[they] can then subsequently end up either in our wastewater treatment plants and or in the landfill and then inadvertently end up contaminating nearby waters and soil,” said Theron Lay-Sleeper, general manager of the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District (CVSWMD), which will operate the new “Eco-Depot.” 

“Our goal is to make sure that our residents have a convenient year-round disposal option to manage these materials in a safe and responsible way,” Lay-Sleeper added.

“It’s a well-placed facility, and it will set the central Vermont region up for success with managing tough-to-manage materials into the future,” said Josh Kelly, Solid Waste Program Manager with the state Agency of Natural Resources. 

A Stop-off for Hazardous Waste

The new address is in a Berlin industrial park on eight acres of high ground, well above the floodplain. The waste management district plans to renovate and retrofit an existing garage and office building on the property. A building designed to safely store flammable materials will also be added to the site, Lay-Sleeper said.

The depot will not process or dispose of the hazardous waste it collects. Instead, waste will be periodically trucked to other facilities that handle safe disposal. 

“We’re not going to be doing anything but taking it, containerizing it, and getting it out of there,” said Lachlan Pinney, operations manager at the district’s Additional Recyclables Collection Center (ARCC) in Barre, of the planned hazardous-waste facility. 

The ARCC, which was severely affected by last summer’s flooding, will move to 300/302 Granger Road, as will the district’s administrative offices, which are now on Barre Street in Montpelier. 

“We are hoping to be moved in and operational by spring” of next year, Lay-Sleeper said. 

What the facility will charge people who drop off hazardous materials for disposal has not yet been determined, but the district anticipates a “small fee,” he said.

Incentives to Permanence

The expansion of household hazardous waste processing is being funded by approximately $600,000 in grant money awarded to the waste management district in 2020 and 2021 from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). A 2017 report had found that a permanent household hazardous waste facility was considered critical missing infrastructure.

The CVSWMD has long held several annual collection events for household hazardous materials, such as the one held in early April at the Barre Town Garage. At other times, people who need to dispose of these materials must travel to a year-round collection facility elsewhere in the state or use a private contractor. 

The ANR was concerned about the rising costs of holding collection events, according to Kelly, so in 2019 it issued a request for proposals.

“We knew that part of the solution would be facilities that could manage this waste [and] offer more services than just one day a year,” he said. 

Next Steps

The waste management district is working to obtain required permits and to conduct site and environmental assessments, Lay-Sleeper said. They are working with Weston & Sampson Engineers, Inc. on the plan. The site’s current owner is the company Lague Inc., and a purchase agreement is in place, according to Lay-Sleeper.

Permitting with the town of Berlin has gone smoothly, according to Thomas J. Badowski, the town’s zoning administrator.

However, Berlin’s Development Review Board (DRB) has not yet issued a permit, according to Badowski. It has asked the waste management district to provide additional information about stormwater, access, and security lighting at the site, he said.

Minutes from an April 2 meeting of the Berlin DRB indicate the district must also communicate with the owner of the abutting property to obtain an access easement, as part of the driveway falls on that property. The plan is to use municipal water and sewer services and to add a second fire hydrant.

“They’ve been very proactive on seeking advice from the town, and, to their credit, they have taken that advice,” said Badowski of CVSWMD. “In my opinion, [they] have put forth a fairly reasonable application for consideration by the Development Review Board.”

The board will take up the matter again on May 7.

In the meantime, CVSWMD employees are being trained to safely handle and store hazardous household wastes. 

“Anybody can buy them, but it does take some specialized training to know how to deal with them appropriately,” Lay-Sleeper said. “Oftentimes, people will get something, use a little bit of it, and then the rest will sit in their garage [until] the container breaks and it’s still in their garage, and then they’ve contaminated their garage. And maybe … they just wash it out in the yard and then contaminate the storm drains in the yard.” 

The goal, he added, is to “make sure that we’re getting out ahead of that and getting any materials to the professionals to deal with.”