Weekly News Bulletin: Apr. 28-May 4, 2009


Waste Management Expected to Show Weaker First Quarter Profit

According to an Associated Press article in Forbes, Waste Management expects to report weaker first quarter profits as the recession has hurt waste volumes, particularly those from business and construction projects. The company is responding with a restructuring plan aimed at cutting costs to the tune of $100 million a year by consolidating operations, delaying merit-based pay for hourly employees and eliminating salary increases for some employees this year or until the economy improves. As previously expected, the company is expected to hold the line on pricing if not increase them when possible. Analysts expect earnings of $0.41 per share on revenue of $2.98 billion for the quarter. That would be down from $0.48 per share on revenue of $3.27 billion in the first quarter of 2008. Revenues are not likely to grow much until the economy, housing, and new construction start to revive. The company might also benefit from efficiencies gained through increased vertical integration of its collection, processing and disposal businesses. Lawrence O'Donnell, president and chief operating officer, told investors last month that the company expects to spend $730 million on acquisitions, stock repurchases and debt reduction. "We think this year should provide some good opportunities for us to acquire some new businesses." With its strong balance sheet the company is in a position to take advantage of attractive deals in the current climate's depressed valuations, He also said the company continues to invest in landfill gas-to-energy projects which could pay dividends as energy prices rise...Read More »



Proposal to Revise Waxman, Markey Climate Change Bill

Proposed revisions to the draft climate and energy bill pose a challenge to Energy & Commerce Committee leaders as they attempt to gain support from swing-vote lawmakers without eroding backing from environmentalists on key issues of emission targets, renewable electricity standards, the award of free allowances and rules for emission offset projects. A group of moderate democrats are now suggesting changes to the climate and energy discussion draft authored by committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and energy subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey (D-MA) to make it more palatable to industry and sensitive to Midwestern coal states and prevailing economic conditions.

For example, the new proposal urges a 2020 emissions target of 6 percent below 1990 levels, rather than the 20 percent outlined in the discussion draft. It also calls for "free allocation to the utility sector of 40 percent, consistent with the sector's share of CO2 emissions," as well as an allocation of a "small percentage" of allowances to unregulated merchant coal generators. And, it calls for easing the legislation's renewable electricity standard from 25 percent to 15 percent by 2025, and expanding the list of eligible fuels by roughly a dozen categories, beginning with waste-to-energy plants and including such categories as municipal solid waste, mine methane and combined heat-and-power facilities.

On emissions offsets, the proposal calls for liberalizing the rules in the discussion draft. Recommendations include increasing the number of allowed offsets from 2 billion to 3 billion annually; making offsets traded on the Chicago Climate Exchange eligible for crediting as emissions cuts. It would including unspecified language that would allow coal plant projects currently "underway" to continue, and language that would make imposition of the bill's 2015 and 2020 standards for the plants contingent on technology availability...Read More »



EPA Allocating $600 Million Stimulus Funds to Clean 50 Superfund Sites

The EPA has released a list of 50 Superfund sites that will receive the $600 million in stimulus funding alloted for the program and, as previously reported by Inside EPA, the agency has shown preference to sites listed on its National Priorities List (NPL) where regional officials can quickly obligate and spend the funds. "In most cases, this [stimulus] funding will accelerate the hazardous waste cleanup already underway at the sites and fund new clean-up projects," EPA says in a recent statement. "It will also jumpstart the local economy by creating jobs in the site areas." The list shows sites in a total of 28 states receiving stimulus funds, with eight sites in New Jersey winning funds while California, Florida and Massachusetts each got funding for three sites. According to the agency's website, "EPA made decisions about which projects to fund based on a variety of factors" including "construction readiness; human and ecological risk; and opportunities to reduce project costs and schedules."...Read More »



EPA Seeks Delay of Lawsuit over "Comparable Fuels" Rule

The US EPA is seeking a one-year delay in a lawsuit brought by activists against the Bush agency's last-minute controversial "comparable fuels" rule that increased the number of hazardous wastes that can be burned as fuel without being subject to strict federal waste-management requirements. The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion on April 16 with the US Court of Appeals to hold the suit (Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), et al. v. EPA, et al.) in abeyance for one year while the new administration reviews the rule. The motion says the delay is vital given the "concomitant possibility that the regulation might be altered or withdrawn" once EPA completes its review. Earthjustice filed the suit March 18 on behalf of LEAN and the Sierra Club...Read More »



SPSA Raises its Disposal Fees to Highest in the Country

The financially troubled Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA) this week adopted the highest disposal fees in the country as part of its financial rescue plan. The municipalities of Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Franklin, Isle of Wight County and Southampton County will now pay $170 per ton, up from $104 per ton earlier this year and $57 only two years ago. Virginia Beach and Suffolk are exempt from the increase as they have separate agreements with SPSA. In recent months the agency has not been struggling to craft a plan to pay down nearly $240 million in debt and is not even generating enough revenue to cover expenses. Currently, 40 percent of its annual budget goes to paying down debt...Read More »



American Ecology Posts Weaker Results as Economy Takes Toll

Hazardous waste disposal firm American Ecology released first quarter results that were slightly weaker than expected. Revenue declined 24% to $35 million from the year-ago period as lower industrial production reduced the volume of hazardous waste that requires disposal. In particular, lower steel mill, government, and private cleanup activity were the main drivers of lower volumes. Waste volumes declined 37% to 213,000 tons processed, reducing operating leverage in the company. Operating margins declined by 350 basis points to 17%. Roughly half of company revenues are derived from event-driven business that is variable in nature and dependent upon governmental and private cleanup activity, along with Brownfield redevelopment projects many of which have been delayed indefinitely as a result of the economy. However, the company could benefit from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, as more than $900 million has been allocated for environmental cleanup...Read More »



Norcal Waste Systems Changes Name to Recology

Norcal Waste Systems, one of the largest privately owned waste management companies in the country, announced that it is changing its name to Recology. The name is a contraction of recycling and ecology with "clear roots in words like recycling, renewal, reuse and reduction," and intended to better reflect the company's emphasis on resource recovery. "We are changing our name because our business has changed, and we choose to be leaders in the growth of resource recovery," CEO Mike Sangiacomo said. "In the face of increasing opportunities, the name Norcal Waste Systems is too limiting in terms of the geography we serve and 'waste systems' does not reflect where we believe the industry is heading or our vision for the future," he said...Read More »



Columbia, MO Landfill Opens Nation's 10th Bioreactor

The City of Columbia Missouri Landfill has won approval from the state Department of Natural Resources to operate the state's first bioreactor, one of only ten in the country. Bioreactors inject water into the landfill and recirculate leachate to enhance waste decomposition. Research from other projects indicates that bioreactors increase available landfill space and accelerate the production of landfill gas which enhances its use in energy recovery. Columbia's project began in 2005 and is separate from its 2.1 megawatt landfill gas-to-energy operation which came online in June 2008. The bioreactor is expected to double its output...Read More »



Waste Management Introduces Fluorescent Bulb Recycling Program

Waste Management is teaming with Litetronics International which makes Earthmate compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) in recyclable packaging that also doubles as a CFL recycling kit. CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury and not otherwise easy to recycle. Consumers who purchase Earthmate CFLs are given a box lined with Waste Management's patent pending Mercury VaporLok, which ostensibly reduces the risk of airborne mercury exposure and environmental contamination from lamps broken during storage and shipping to Waste Management's lamp recycling center. The number of CFLs sold has jumped from 21 million bulbs in 2000 to about 400 million in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's ENERGY STAR program. With the new National Energy Plan scheduled to phase out certain incandescent models, it is projected that over 4 billion CFLs will be in households by 2012, according to the release...Read More »



Perma-Fix Receives First Shipment of Radioactive PCBs at Tenn. Site

Perma-Fix Environmental Services said it had received its first shipment of radioactive Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) at its Diversified Scientific Services, Inc. (DSSI) facility, in Kingston, TN. Last month, the EPA authorized the facility to accept such wastes making it the only commercial operator in the US authorized to destroy radioactive PCBs...Read More »



Covanta Joins CRI to Support National Bottle Bill

Covanta Energy has joined the Container Recycling Institute, supporting legislation to enact a national bottle bill. Reps. Ed Markey (D-MA)., and Jim Moran (D-VA), reintroduced the Bottle Recycling Climate Protection Act, which calls for a national 5-cent deposit on carbonated and noncarbonated beverages. Rep. Ed Markey is Chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee and co-author along with rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) of a climate change-energy bill that has big implications for Covanta. One issue is whether energy recovery from burning solid waste will qualify as a renewable resource under their proposed legislation...Read More »



Brown County, WI Opens New Landfill gas-to-Energy Facility

Last week Brown County, WI officials unveiled a new $3.8 million landfill gas-to-energy system. The project is expected to pay for itself in six to eight years by producing 1.8 megawatts of electricity that will be sold to Wisconsin Public Service Corp. It taps into the now closed Brown County East Landfill which opened in 1976 and closed in 2003 and contains an estimated 4 million tons of buried garbage...Read More »



Clean Harbors to Announce First-Quarter Financial Results on May 6

Clean Harbors will host a conference call to discuss first-quarter 2009 financial results on Wednesday, May 6 at 9 a.m. (Eastern)...Read More »



Industrial Services of America Expects Narrower Loss in First Quarter than Last

Industrial Services of America Inc. said it expects first-quarter earnings of between $0.17 and $0.19 per share, down from $0.30 per share a year ago. The loss comes a quarter after the company reported a net loss of $2.5 million, or $0.69 per share. Those results included a one-time charge of $0.37 per share related to a write-down in the value of the company's inventory and contributions to a lawsuit settlement reserve. In a news release, company president and COO Brian Donaghy attributed the turnaround to an expansion into the stainless steel and high-temperature alloy markets that came earlier this year when the company purchased the assets of Venture Metals LLC for $8.8 million. He said that this was despite "what continues to be a very challenging market for recyclable commodities."...Read More »



EnergySolutions to Announce First Quarter Results on May 6

EnergySolutions, Inc. says it plans to announce first quarter financial results on Wednesday, May 6, 2009 and conduct a conference call to discuss those results the following day at 10 a.m. (Eastern)...Read More »


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