Petersburg city manager
Southeast Alaska leaders are hailing the imminent return of their prized Hazmobile to the region.
Until earlier this year, the van, equipped with a lab, traveled the state ferry system picking up household hazardous waste from Ketchikan to Valdez.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation moved the Hazmobile to Anchorage earlier this year when the agency ended its financial contribution to Southeast's household hazardous waste program.
State officials said their funding priority needed to be shifted to illegal dumps.
Over the years, Southeast communities have paid most of the cost of the household hazardous waste program. The Hazmobile itself was purchased by the Southeast Conference though it was titled to the state agency.
Following negotiation with state officials, the Southeast Conference will reacquire the Hazmobile in February.
"Everyone has agreed that it belongs to the Southeast Conference," said Rollo Pool, the nonprofit corporation's executive director.
The annual household hazardous waste program will begin again in May, he said.
"It's a good thing that the vehicle is coming back," said Bruce Jones, city manager of Petersburg, saying the pickup program helps prevent water pollution.
"The Southeast Conference, working with the communities, will be able to continue the program even though the state is not participating," Jones said.
The communities that have received the household hazardous waste service include Sitka, Klawock, Craig, Thorne Bay, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Haines, Skagway, Valdez and Cordova.
Jones estimated that Petersburg pays $25,000 to $30,000 annually for the service.
"It is well worth the price," he said.