Much is being made of news about the Tennessee Valley Authority's coal ash pond rupture last month near Harriman, TN, especially after the New York Times made it a front page story on Jan. 6. That spill released an estimated one billion gallons of toxic sludge across 300 acres in east Tennessee. Now this week, the TVA says that a second site, the Widows Creek Fossil Plant in Stevenson, AL, sprung a 10,000 gallon leak of process water from a gypsum pond there.
Energy Department data reveals that 156 coal-fired power plants store ash in surface ponds similar to one that ruptured in Tennessee. The man-made lagoons hold a mixture of the noncombustible ingredients of coal and the ash trapped by pollution control equipment. This waste contains heavy metals like arsenic, lead, mercury and selenium considered by the US EPA to pose a threat to water supplies and human health, yet the disposal sites are largely unregulated and accordingly unmonitored.
According to an Associated Press analysis, in 2005, the most recent year data is available, 721 power plants generating at least 100 megawatts of electricity produced 95.8 million tons of coal ash, 20 million tons of which ended up in surface ponds. The remainder goes to regulated landfills, or is sold for use in concrete, road bed and other uses. In 2007, an EPA report identified 63 sites in 26 states where water was contaminated by heavy metals from such dumps, including three other TVA dumps. Environmental groups have submitted at least 17 more sites they say should be added to that list.
TVA President Tom Kilgore told a Senate hearing this week that "this event will trigger regulations," which he expects will likely result in designating coal ash as a hazardous waste. Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairwoman of the environment committee, said she plans to ask Lisa Jackson, Democratic President-elect Barack Obama's nominee to head the EPA, about providing regulation of the ash during her confirmation hearing next week...Read More »
Oahu, Hawaii is likely to move forward with plans to ship 106,600 tons of its waste per year to a landfill in Washington State now that the city has approved a contract with Seattle, WA-based Hawaiian Waste Systems. The company, which offered the lowest bid, will be paid $99 per ton to ship waste across the ocean for disposal at the Roosevelt Regional Landfill in Roosevelt, WA which is owned by Republic Services (formerly Allied Waste, and before that, Rebanco). The city currently spends $30 per ton to dump trash at the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill, which is running out of room. Two other bidding companies' protests were rejected, although they may still appeal...Read More »
More than 200 defendants will pay a total of $43 million to the State of New Jersey to settle allegations of natural resource damage at the long-closed Combe Fill South Landfill in Morris County, NJ. The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by the US EPA and the New Jersey DEP in 1998 alleging that operators of the landfill illegally accepted industrial wastes, sewage sludge, septic tank wastes, chemicals and waste oils. The landfill was placed on the National Priorities List in 1980, becoming part of the Superfund program that allowed the federal government to intervene after the DEP found significant levels of hazardous substances in the ground and surface water at the site. Under the settlement, defendants will pay $12.7 million for the state's past remediation costs at the landfill plus $3.2 million for natural resource damages, and pay $27 million to cover future remediation costs. Seperately, they will also have to reimburse the US EPA $56 million in past remediation costs.
The federal EPA says companies potentially responsible for contamination at the site include Honeywell, Warner-Lambert Company doing business as Pfizer, the Colgate-Palmolive Company as a successor to The Mennen Company, Mars Inc., and Waste Management...Read More »
Gwinnett County, GA dissolved its agreement with Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful Services to administer its waste program after a judge ruled last month that such a program violated state law by delegating governmental functions to a private entity. The program had been set to begin Jan. 2, forcing the county resume management of the solid waste program, including regulation of residential and commercial haulers and operation of recycling programs...Read More »
For the second time this year, the financially strapped Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA), serving eight municipalities in that part of Virginia, has rejected a buyout proposal from New York-based ReEnergy Holdings LLC. SPSA's board chairman said the offer would have left South Hampton Roads with just one provider of waste services, and preclude studies and bids from other private companies to buy assets of the public agency. A similar offer from ReEnergy was rejected last summer, and became public only when SPSA disclosed the talks in a memo to local government leaders...Read More »
Advanced Disposal Services (Jacksonville, FL) announced the beginning of its contract to service the unincorporated area of Orange County, FL that began on Jan. 1. The company expects it to provide an annual economic benefit in the form of $1.7 million paid to 57 workers hired to service the contract. "We are pleased the county chose Advanced Disposal as one of the new solid waste services providers for unincorporated Orange County," said Mary O'Brien, chief marketing officer of Advanced Disposal, in a press release. "We are very excited about starting up operations in the Central Florida marketplace, and are committed to providing our residents a high-quality solid waste and recycling collection program."...Read More »
Roseville, Michigan-based GLR Recycling Solutions has opened a new $12 million state-of-the-art 50,000 square-foot single-stream recycling facility near New Boston, MI about 20 miles southwest of Detroit. "The recycling facility will process recyclables from the entire region including from Ohio, Indiana Michigan and Canada," said Sandy Rosen, CEO of GLR. It is strategically located near the I-75, I-275 and I-94 corridors to facilitate access and reduce its impact on neighbors...Read More »
Mack Trucks, Inc. said it had delivered its first diesel-electric hybrid refuse truck to the US Air Force (USAF) Advanced Power Technology Office (APTO). The TerraPro hybrid has a rear loading refuse packer body and is equipped with a 325 hp US'07-compliant MACK MP7 engine. It is designed to maximize fuel savings (by 20-30%) on routes with frequent braking and accelerations...Read More »
Ze-gen, Inc., which has developed gasification technology for converting waste into synthesis gas, announced that it has raised $20 million in Series B financing from Omar Zawawi Establishment (Omzest Group of Oman, a leading Middle East based global industrial conglomerate) through one of its group companies called Waroz Holding Company. Funds will be used to commercially deploy Ze-gen's technology. "This financing further validates Ze-gen's industry leading technology, which offers an environmentally sustainable solution to both solid waste management and distributed energy generation," said Jim Matheson, General Partner of Flagship Ventures and Chairman of the Board at Ze-gen...Read More »
Waste Management plans to release fourth quarter and full year results before the opening of the markets on Thursday, February 12. The company will host a conference call that morning at 10 am (ET) to discuss those results...Read More »
Republic Services, now representing the combined entities of Republic and Allied Waste, will announce fourth quarter and full year results during a conference call to be held on Friday, February 27 at 8:30 am (ET)...Read More »