When the Sitka Assembly meets tonight (10-26-21), it will consider purchasing a $3 million dollar solid waste compactor that would compact Sitka’s garbage into “bails” to reduce the risk of shipping fires at sea. 

Last year, Alaska Marine Lines announced it would no longer allow several Southeast communities, including Sitka, to ship garbage in open topped containers with limited compaction. Sitka contracts its solid waste shipment with Republic Services, which loads shipping containers full of Sitka’s waste onto AML barges to Seattle, then drives the garbage to a landfill in eastern Washington.  

Following AML’s announcement, the city has been negotiating with Republic Services over who will foot the bill for the compacting equipment. The Assembly heard a presentation from Republic Services last spring, and representatives from the company maintained that the cost was on the city. If the city didn’t invest in new compacting equipment, Republic Services was contractually obligated to find another way to ship garbage off the island, which they said would cost the city even more money. 

In a memo to the Assembly, city staff recommend budgeting $3 million for a new compactor at the transfer station. It would be paid for, in large part, by a loan from the Southeast Economic Development Fund. Once the system is installed, it’s estimated to cut costs by around 26,000 a year.  

In other business, the Sitka Assembly will consider including a land acknowledgement in future meetings, and it will revisit the city’s long-term parking rules at Crescent Harbor and Sealing Cove. 

The Sitka Assembly meets at 5 p.m. tonight for a work session with the Climate Action Task Force, and reconvenes at 6 p.m. for its regular meeting tonight. Raven Radio will broadcast the meeting live, following Alaska News Nightly.