Environment Briefs – May 2022

New paint recycling tops 581,000 gallons

PaintCare, Washington’s new paint recycling program, reports it collected more than 581,000 gallons of surplus paint in its first nine months.

The program operates 210 year-round drop-off sites, mostly at paint stores, and recycled 88% of the latex paint collected back into usable paint. Of the paint collected, 89% was latex and 11% was oil-based.

PaintCare is a nonprofit that ensures unneeded paint is either recycled or disposed of properly. Most Washington residents live within 15 miles of a drop-off site. The program was enabled by legislation and launched April 1, 2021.

Tri-Citians can recycle paint at local Rodda Paint, Sherwin-Williams and other locations.

Go to paintcare.org for more information, including a list of items that are and are not accepted. Users should contact drop-off sites prior to visiting to confirm hours and availability.


Trios’ recycling efforts help fund scholarships

Trios Health’s birth center construction project helped to fund $200,000 in scholarships through metal recycling with the John William Jackson Fund and the Idaho Youth Education Recycling Partnership (iYERP).

As metal was removed during the Kennewick construction project, it was moved to recycling containers on site. Pacific Recycling recycled the metal and then paid proceeds to iYERP.

“This really has a two-fold purpose to actively be involved with general contractors to advance environmental stewardship and to partner with construction companies, hospitals, and others to offer the opportunity to capture some of their investments through this recycling,” said Bill “Action” Jackson, founder of the John William Jackson Fund.

The fund partners with construction companies for its metal recycling program, including Layton Construction, lead project manager for the Trios Birth Center construction.

Jackson and his wife Jackie started their foundation after their youngest son, John William, died in a climbing accident. They wanted a way to honor his memory and to make a difference.

The $200,000 in scholarships the foundation was able to award for its 2021 cycle year through its partnerships is the most it has ever been able to award and was generated through various construction partnerships, as well as donations to the John William Jackson Fund.

Of those funds, $8,000 went to local nursing students at Columbia Basin College.

The scholarships are given directly to schools, which then decide on the scholarship recipients.

The new $22 million Trios Birth Center opened at Trios Southridge Hospital at 3810 Plaza Way in Kennewick on March 29. 


DOE sets new light bulb rules to curb emissions

The U.S. Department of Energy has set new rules for light bulbs it says will curb energy costs and save customers money.

The new rules revise the definition of what constitutes a light bulb and the second sets the minimum standard of 45 lumens per watt for bulbs.

The changes should cut nearly $3 billion per year on utility bulbs, or about $100 per household.

The energy savings will cut carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons over the next 30 years, akin to the emissions generated by 28 million homes in a single year.


Steer clear of algae blooms, state advises

Stay away from algae blooms is the timely message from the Washington Department of Ecology.

Blooms of harmful algae, or cyanobacteria, are common in Washington lakes in the spring through late fall, depending on climate conditions, runoff and the nutrients in runoff.

While it’s impossible to know for sure which bodies of water will sprout toxic blooms – or even if they are toxic – the state agency said it is safest to stay away.

Keep children and pets away and wash thoroughly if exposed, it said.

Locally, stretches of the Columbia River shoreline were closed in fall 2021 over potentially toxic algae blooms. Several dogs were sickened and died after being exposed to the water.


Pasco contractor secures $4.8M job at Hanford

Elite Construction and Development of Pasco will install a protective barrier at the Hanford site under a $4.8 million groundwater protection program subcontract.

Washington River Protection Solutions, a Hanford contractor, selected Elite for the work in April.

Elite will excavate about 8,500 cubic yards of soil and install a liner and piping system to collect runoff at a site the size of a football field.

The barrier will prevent rain and snowmelt from pushing existing soil contaminants closer to the groundwater at one of Hanford’s underground tank waste storage farms.


OCOchem team secures $2.93M green energy grant

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $2.93 million grant to a team that includes Richland-based OCOchem to design and build a plant to convert industrial waste at a Kennewick fertilizer plant into formic acid, a green electro-fuel.

OCOchem develops carbon dioxide conversion technology while its partner, Berkeley, California-based AirCapture, has developed technology that uses waste heat from industrial operations to capture CO2, reducing their carbon emissions.

The proposed plant will be located at the Kennewick facility of Nutrien, a Canadian fertilizer giant that has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.

“We are converting common industrial waste streams into product streams,” said Todd Brix, co-founder and CEO of OCOchem, which converts the captured CO2 into useful chemicals.

Formic acid can be stored, transported and used in numerous applications, including industrial, consumer, transportation and agriculture. It also can be used to transport green hydrogen safely and efficiently.

Results from the system design will be used to quantify how deployment of the proposed technology could help develop a local clean energy economy.

The Benton Public Utility District, University of Alabama, Sacre-Davey Engineering and Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC) are partners in the effort.


EV stations coming to White Pass

Energy Northwest will begin construction on a series of eight charging stations for electric vehicles along White Pass Scenic Bypass in the spring.

The Richland-based energy cooperative previously oversaw installation of 10 EV stations throughout the region dating to 2016.

The eight new stations will bridge the gap between eastern and western parts of the state.

“Energy Northwest is striving to help Washington state meet its climate goals and looking to ways we can make an impact in both the energy and transportation sectors,” said Greg Cullen, vice president for energy services and development, in a news release. “As transportation evolves, getting the infrastructure in place is vital for communities across Washington.”

Energy Northwest is collaborating with Lewis County Public Utility District and Twin Transit, with support from the White Pass Scenic Byway organization, Benton REA and other community groups.

White Pass Byway, or Highway 12, links Yakima counties to Lewis and Pierce.

It is currently an underserved corridor for EV drivers.

Energy Northwest is financing the project with a $1.15 million grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Clean Energy Fund and with $667,000 from TransAlta Coal Transition Fund.

Stations will include at least one DC fast charger and one Level 2 charger. The stations will include signs highlighting nearby attractions.

Energy Northwest operates the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant north of Richland and a portfolio of generating projects, including hydro, solar, battery storage and wind. It is comprised of 27 public power utilities serving more than 1.5 million customers.


Sila chooses Moses Lake for battery tech plant

 A Silicon Valley battery tech firm will produce materials to support up to 500,000 electric vehicles and 500 million mobile phones in Moses Lake.

Sila announced it purchased the former Xyleco property and will covert the 600,000-square-foot plant to manufacture lithium-ion anode materials to support rechargeable batteries used in automobiles and consumer electronics.

It chose the site for its access to hydropower as its proximity to rail lines that offer convenient shipping.

Production will begin in the second half of 2024. Future expansions could extend its production reach to power up to 10 million electric vehicles.

Sila said its technology is the result of 10 years of research and development and 55,000 iterations. The tech is currently used in the WHOOP 4.0 fitness tracker.

Its investors include 8VC, Bessemer Venture Partners, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Coatue, Mercedes-Benz, In-Q-Tel, Matrix Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures and clients advised by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc.

The Columbia Basin Herald reported that Sila’s new home had been empty for many years.

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