Grand Rapids, MI – (December 15, 2016) Kent County’s Recycling & Education Center experienced an electrical malfunction that will cause the facility to shut down for several days. During this time the Recycling Center is unable to accept recyclables placed at the curb for pickup by waste haulers.
On Wednesday afternoon, December 14, the facility located at 977 Wealthy SW in Grand Rapids experienced an electrical malfunction that immediately shut down the entire plant and resulted in a small fire. The fire was quickly extinguished but the electrical system suffered more extensive damage making the majority of the processing equipment inoperative.
“Like a manufacturing plant, sorting equipment in these state-of-the-art processing facilities is dependent on all pieces synchronizing to each other,” said Darwin Baas, Director of Kent County’s Department of Public Works, an enterprise fund of Kent County that owns and operates the facility. “We’re nimble and have workarounds when a single piece of equipment requires unexpected maintenance but when the majority of the plant won’t run because of an electrical system failure, there aren’t a lot of options.”
Currently between 1,000 and 1,250 tons of material is awaiting processing on the ‘tipping floor’, where waste haulers dump recyclables that will be processed once the plant is back up and running.
Kent County is working closely with a local electrical contractor to repair 300 feet of the control systems wiring and a control panel that was damaged.
“By working around the clock, we expect the repairs to take two days to complete. Once this is finished, the team will determine if the resulting fire caused any further damage,” said Baas.
Haulers that normally deliver recyclables to the Kent County Recycling & Education Center will be redirected to Kent County’s Waste to Energy Facility, about a mile away.
“Sending recyclables to the Waste to Energy Facility is not ideal, particularly at this time of year when the inbound tonnage of recyclables is at its peak from the additional packaging, mailing and food preparation. Sending recyclables to Waste to Energy is a much better alternative than landfilling. We can extract the energy, generate electricity and feed that back into the grid for productive use,” noted Baas.
While the Recycling Center is down the service fee for haulers tipping recyclables will be waived.
Kent County experienced a two-week shutdown in July 2013 when the baler developed mechanical issues. Despite experiencing other equipment malfunctions, including a propane tank explosion in the baler earlier this year, this is only the second time Kent County has not been able to receive material since opening in 2010.
Residents and businesses are encouraged to hold off placing recycling carts out for service for the next couple of days until the facility is running, which is anticipated to be Monday, December 19. Kent County DPW will post updates on the progress of the electrical repairs on its recycling website, www.recyclekent.org.