Weekly News Bulletin: Mar. 10-16, 2009


New York City Begins New 950 Ton per Day Rail Haul Operation

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced an important milestone in the city's 20-year plan to eventually move all its waste by barge or rail. The city now exports 35% of its waste by rail and has just begun operating a facility in Brooklyn, known as Varick I that is moving 950 tons per day by rail. That facility was redesigned to allow containers to be transferred onto trains. From there, trains will proceed east through Queens, where the cars will be transferred to CSX trains heading over the Hell Gate Bridge, then south to landfills in Virginia. "By exporting 950 tons of residential and municipal waste per day by rail, we're eliminating more than 40 long-haul tractor trailer trips each day - or about 13,000 trips per year," said Mayor Bloomberg. The effort is just part of a massive 20-year solid waste plan that ultimately calls for transporting most if not all of the city's residential waste, in excess of 14,000 tons per day, out of the city via barge or rail to landfills across the Midwest and southeastern US. Already all of the waste in the Bronx is shipped by rail. The city plans to break ground on a waterside transfer station in Queens and another in Brooklyn before the end of the year...Read More »



EPA Will Propose Coal Ash Regulation By End of the Year

Less than three months after a coal ash pond ruptured and spilled a billion gallons of waste at a TVA site in Tennessee, senators and members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have introduced a resolution calling on the US EPA to regulate coal ash. The resolution, S. Res. 64, from committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), pushes the agency to conduct immediate reviews and inspections of all of the country's coal ash impoundments and to regulate coal combustion waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In 2000, EPA produced a draft regulatory determination that said certain fossil fuel combustion wastes like coal ash should be regulated as a hazardous waste under RCRA, but no regulations have ever been promulgated. Last week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that the agency is currently focused on enforcement and ensuring that other facilities manage their impoundments better than TVA did, but that EPA would produce new regulations by the end of the year. "This is the day we thought would never come. After a decade of fighting for regulations to protect Americans from the 130 million tons of toxic coal ash generated each year, we are heartened by EPA's commitment," said Lisa Evans, an attorney with the group Earthjustice...Read More »



Senators Want to Include Waste-to-Energy in Renewable Electricity Standard

Thirteen senators are endorsing a proposal to add energy derived from burning waste to the list of resources that count toward meeting a nationwide renewable electricity standard. In a March 3 letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the members say waste-to-energy reduces trash levels nationwide while offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. "As our nation's energy needs grow and we continue to discern how best to meet them, we think it is important to take an inclusive view of the ways in which already-existing technologies can be used to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels," the letter states. The letter notes that 87 waste-to-energy facilities nationwide manage 29 million tons of household trash yearly, with an electric capacity of 2,700 megawatts. Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) has floated a draft RES bill that requires power providers to supply 16 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2019, and 20 percent in 2021 and thereafter. The plan allows 25 percent of the target to be met with efficiency measures. The plan does not include waste-to-energy among the resources that count toward the standard...Read More »



Tough Third Quarter for Casella; Hurt by Drop in Commodity Prices

Casella Waste Systems Inc. posted third quarter net loss of $3.8 million or $0.15 per share, compared to a net loss of $4.6 million or $0.18 per share in the prior year quarter. Revenues for the quarter were $121.2 million, down from $140.9 million in the previous year quarter. The company said that lower commodity pricing and lower volumes, along with some non-recurring costs and the commissioning of two new Zero-Sort Recycling facilities hurt year-over-year operating performance. Those costs were $4 million in the third quarter alone. Looking ahead, for the fiscal 2009, the company now expects revenues to be in the range of $540 million - $560 million, compared to its previous guidance of $580 million - $600 million...Read More »



Rule on Rail Waste Transfer Facilities Sent to Senate

The Department of Transportation's (DOT) Surface Transportation Board (STB) has sent its rulemaking entitled "Solid Waste Rail Transfer Facilities" to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The rules expand upon the "Clean Railroads Act," enacted in October 2008, by adding sections that expands the authority of states and local government to regulate solid waste rail transfer facilities. The rules also specify what existing and proposed facilities must do to comply with the Clean Railroads Act and more clearly define the STB's role. Originally rail-based waste facilities drew controversy because they operated outside of the realm of state and local regulation. Railroads are regulated by the STB under federal laws that preempt local laws. Industry cried foul because rail facilities had an unfair competitive advantage and tarnished the reputation of legitimate operators. Environmentalists and local regulators worried about potentially unsafe practices at these unregulated sites...Read More »



DTE Biomass Energy Project Begins in Ohio

A new landfill gas-to-energy project has begun operations at Republic Services' Cherokee Run Landfill in Bellefontaine, Ohio. The project is owned by Bellefontaine Gas Producers LLC, a joint venture between DTE Biomass Energy and Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure Inc. It utilizes three Caterpillar engines to produce 4.8 megawatts of power, enough to power 4,800 households for a year that will be sold under a long-term sales agreement with PJM Interconnection regional transmission organization...Read More »



Casella Proposes Waste-to-Fuel Project in New York

Casella Waste Systems is proposing a $7 million system to gasify wastes at its Ontario County, NY facility and convert the resulting syngas into liquid fuel. The project if approved by the local Board of Supervisors and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation would help extend the life of the landfill it operates under a 25-year contract there and provide clean and relatively cheap fuel for county vehicles. A successful pilot project could lead to a $100 million full-scale operation...Read More »



Diageo Reuses Waste from Distilling Gin

Wine, beer and spirits giant Diageo is rolling out a new byproduct reuse initiative at its Plainfield, Illinois facility that will send berries and seeds from gin production to Waste Management, Inc.'s local composting site. The company is also expanding its paper-recycling program there and launching a new initiative that converts municipal solid waste into power and steam instead of sending it to a landfill at its Amherstberg, Ontario facility. Together the initiatives are expected to yield energy savings and divert 400 tons of waste per year from landfills...Read More »


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