Heavy equipment loads junk cars and scrap metal onto a  barge in Ketchikan. (Photo courtesy Ketchikan Gateway Borough)

Heavy equipment loads scrap metal onto a barge in Ketchikan. (Photo courtesy Ketchikan Gateway Borough)

A Ketchikan company will soon begin collecting and recycling scrap metal from Wrangell, Petersburg and six Prince of Wales Island communities.

The region’s solid waste authority, representing the eight cities, recently chose Pool Engineering to provide the service.

Authority member Carl Johnson, Wrangell’s public works director, says junk cars and similar waste accumulates quickly.

“All the communities in Southeast have been having trouble for years dealing with predictable scrap-metal removal. Things pile up and we can’t seem to get rid of them in a regular, timely fashion,” Johnson says.

The authority began about five years ago with the goal of lowering garbage-disposal costs in the region.

It already has a contract for barging trash and some recyclables south.

Johnson says scrap-metal rates have yet to be determined. But once they’re in place, Pool Engineering will collect, remove and sell junk cars and other materials.

Other communities will also be able to use the service, along with Southeast construction companies and other businesses.

Johnson says the contractor will provide training for local governments.

“Everybody’s kind of preprocessing their scrap metal a little differently. You’re supposed to pull the tires and fluids out of cars and there could be some sorting of different waste that will make it easier and more profitable, both for them and the communities,” Johnson says.

The Southeast Alaska Solid Waste Authority includes Petersburg, Wrangell and six cities on Prince of Wales Island: Craig, Klawock, Thorne Bay, Kasaan, Hydaburg and Coffman Cove.