Weekly News Bulletin: Apr. 1-7, 2008


Railroad Administration May Tighten Hazardous-Materials Rail Rules

The Federal Railroad Administration is proposing new rules aimed at the rail transport of hazardous materials. Under withering pressure after a 2005 train crash in Graniteville, SC that caused a 90-ton chlorine car to rupture, the Department proposed new rules that would require tank cars carrying hazardous materials to be replaced by 2017, rebuilt stronger and restricted to travel at slower speeds. The new construction requirements are expected to add about $40,000 to the cost of a new tank car, a 50% increase over current costs and is expected to affect an estimated 15,300 tank cars...Read More »



S&P Optimistic About Waste Services Sector

Investment rating agency Standard & Poor's recently reiterated its confidence in the waste management sector, projecting that per share earnings will rise 8% to 10% in 2008. The recession resistant nature of the business and its ability to generate strong cash flow makes it a defensive play in uncertain financial markets. Continued pricing discipline should more than offset any volume loss due to lower construction business. At the same time, fuel surcharges, contract cost escalators and hedging programs should outpace actual cost increases especially if oil prices decline slightly as expected. Companies are expanding margins by sacrificing market share in favor of higher margin business, divesting of low-margin assets and routes while enhancing customer service to stem attrition...Read More »



Industry Concerned That Tighter Gas Emission Standards Would Hinder Progress

Waste industry officials are concerned that new regulation proposed by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from landfills, would have the unintended consequence of discouraging landfill gas-to-energy projects, and could jeopardize existing operations. The regulation stems from California's landmark climate change law, AB 32. It would require installation of gas control systems at smaller landfills that are currently uncontrolled and raise the methane-capture efficiency standard for existing and proposed landfill gas projects to 99%. Industry officials warned that many existing projects operate at a 97% destruction-efficiency rate which might lead landfills to scrap existing projects in favor of cheaper flaring systems to meet the new rule. There is also concern about the added burden of compliance with now two different state agencies...Read More »



Waste Management Sues Software Giant

Waste Management is suing software giant SAP over its $100 million investment in an accounting system that has failed to meet contract expectations. The company filed its lawsuit on March 20 in the district court of Harris County, Texas after months of negotiation and recent mediation efforts broke down. According to Lynn Brown, vice president corporate communications, "During the sales process, SAP conducted fraudulent demonstrations of its software." Evidently, SAP misrepresented it as an ‘out-of-the-box' solution, adapted for US requirements and tailored to the needs of waste management firms. The company has been wrestling with the problem since 2005 when the company "almost immediately discovered significant 'gaps' between the software's actual functionality and their business requirements." It is SAP policy to not comment on any legal proceedings...Read More »



EPA Urged to Abandon Efforts to Increase RCRA Exempt Haz Wastes

Environmental groups including Earthjustice have sent letters to lawmakers urging that the EPA relinquish its plan to increase the number of hazardous wastes that can be burned as fuel outside of Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations. The effort follows the EPA's recent denial of a request by 25 House members, primarily Democrats, that the agency assess the potential environmental problems that could stem from the proposed rule change. The groups want an environmental compliance assessment of facilities affected by the rulemaking, but EPA waste chief Susan Bodine said it would be "unnecessary and not relevant," even though she acknowledges that 31 of 86 of facilities affected by the rulemaking have had "significant noncompliance" issues relative to RCRA regulations. Environmentalists oppose the changes because they fear it sets a low bar for what wastes can be considered recyclable and therefore not subject to RCRA regulations...Read More »



Paper Recycling Hits Record High

The American Forest & Paper Association reports that paper recycling in the US hit an all-time high of 56%. It was a significant increase from 53.4% recycled in 2006. The percentage increase was attributed to an increase in the volume of recovery by one million tons against a 4 million ton decrease in overall supply year-to-year. The 54.3 million tons of paper recovered in 2007 add up to more than 360 pounds for every man, woman, and child in America. Each percentage point is the equivalent of approximately one million additional tons of recovered paper which is enough to fill more than 14,000 railroad cars...Read More »



Wal-Mart Sustainability Campaign Criticized

Wal-Mart's Earth Month sustainability campaign with its new lines of environmentally-friendly products is a "waste of time and resources," according to the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC). They argue that surveys show that only a third of consumers care about environmentally-friendly products and even fewer (16%) are willing to pay extra for them. Of particular note are efforts to push sales of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). That is because they are significantly more expensive, fail to fit in many light fixtures, do not work well in dimmers, and pose afterlife environmental disposal problems. Even environmentalists criticize Wal-Mart for failing to have a CFL recycling program in place...Read More »



Startech Environmental to Deploy System in Poland

Startech Environmental plans to install its first Plasma Converter System in Poland. Once completed, the Startech facility in Bytom, Poland, is expected to process 10 tons of industrial waste per day. The deal, completed through the company's U.K.-based distributor, waste2greenenergy (w2ge), represents a beachhead to the European market. The Startech Plasma Converter System employs an electric arc that destroys waste yielding synthetic gas and recyclable inert material. Since early 2004, the company has deployed systems in several countries worldwide, including Japan, Australia and China...Read More »



Perma-Fix Slips to Fourth Quarter Net Loss

Perma-Fix said that earnings were off due to the traditionally slow fourth quarter magnified by the effects of the current DOE bidding cycles and federal budgetary pressures. The company has had unusual expenses related to shifting into a higher volume yet lower margin waste business and with efforts to ramp up bidding on future work. This resulted in a net loss of $7.4 million, or $0.14 per share, compared to net income of $1.9 million or $0.04 per share in the year-ago quarter. Revenues for the quarter were essentially flat at $13.8 million although last year's quarter included settlement gain of $1.1 million...Read More »



Industrial Services of America Net Income Rose in 2007

Industrial Services of America said that expenses related to the acquisition and integration of trucking assets caused a decline in fourth-quarter net income to $566,295, or $0.16 per share, from $729,728, or $0.20 per share, a year earlier. Revenues for the quarter however, rose to $21.6 million from $14.6 million. For full-year 2007, net income rose to $2.6 million, or $0.71 per share, from $2.2 million, or $0.61 per share, in 2006. The company expects first-quarter earnings to be in the range of $0.28 to $0.30 per share...Read More »



Waste Management to Announce First Quarter Earnings on April 29

Waste Management plans to announce first quarter financial results just prior to the opening of the market on Tuesday, April 29. Management will later host a conference call at 9 a.m. (CDT) to discuss those results...Read More »


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