Lyons: ‘Please bear with us’ on recycling center

The Carter County Recycling Center is still out of commission after a fire engulfed the front of the building and part of the roof at the beginning of August.

Director Benny Lyons said officials still will not let his team into the building until they are able to clean and sterilize the equipment.

“It is putting a burden on us at the landfill,” Lyons said.

The main culprit, Lyons said, is asbestos, a silicate material found in fibers in the ceiling. When the ceiling caught fire, Lyons said that material became airborne, posing a serious health hazard, and though the building has been open to the outside air all month, he said it could take weeks before it clears out enough to be safe again.

In the meantime, the county is losing money.

“We are losing about $10,000 a month,” Lyons said.

He said he is still paying his employees, who he has relocated to various projects at the landfill until further notice.

Closing the recycling center meant shutting off all recycling operations in the county. Residents can either hold on to their materials until the county determines a solution or dump it at the landfill.

“It has put a burden on us at the landfill,” he said. “There has been an increase in volume.”

The closest center that does recycling in the area is in Johnson City, but they only take cardboard, meaning plastic has nowhere to go for now.

While Lyons waits on the insurance company to tell him what to do next, he said he and the Landfill Committee have discussed their options.

“I am meeting with a few realtors,” he said. “We want a space close enough to be able to utilize.”

The lack of recycling, he said, has been disappointing.

“You get into a cycle where you realize what doing this does to keep it out of the landfill,” Lyons said. “This is a needed commodity.”

The need has become so great, Lyons said people have been dumping their recycling at the front of the closed recycling center, which he said only invites roaches and makes a mess.

Lyons said residents should try holding on to their plastic for as long as possible until they determine a solution.

“Please bear with us,” Lyons said. “We want to get back up and running as soon as possible.”

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