CLEARWATER — A March 26 fire that caused extensive damage at the Ybor City Waste Management Transfer Station where Clearwater sends its recyclables is disrupting the city's program.
Residents are encouraged to continue recycling as normal, but Clearwater is searching for alternative processing facilities, according to a news release. If the city cannot secure another facility to accept its recyclables, the Solid Waste Department may have to send the materials to the Pinellas Waste-to-Energy Plant.
The plant burns 90 percent of its waste received in order to provide power to 40,000 local homes each day, according to the news release. The plant also recovers all aluminum and metal from burned waste, sending these materials to be recycled.
"This change is temporary," said Earl Gloster, director of Clearwater Solid Waste/Recycling. "In situations that limit our ability to recycle, Clearwater is thankful to operate in a county with such revolutionary waste processing methods. The city of Clearwater will resume sending all of its recyclables to the waste processing facility as soon as it resumes normal operations again."
The Ybor City facility fire is still under investigation, but Clearwater officials said lithium ion batteries is a likely culprit. Items that contain lithium ion batteries — such as cell phones, laptops and cameras — are not accepted in Clearwater's single-stream recycling program because these specific batteries burn so hot that they can spontaneously combust.