Weekly News Bulletin: Sep. 8-14, 2009


Waste Coalition Files Suit to Fight Waste Ban in Northern California

A coalition of waste companies in northern California has filed suit in federal court to invalidate a 1984 Solano County measure that limits out-of-county waste imports. The coalition worries that the county, which has never enforced the so-called Measure E which limits out-of-county waste to 95,000 tons, a small fraction of current volumes, might change its mind someday. Among the plaintiffs is Waste Connections whose Potrero Hills Landfill, recently acquired from Republic Services, is at the heart of the issue. Measure E threatens the ability of that landfill to attract waste from without the county particularly San Francisco and the larger Bay Area. The lawsuit is a preemptive strike at special interest groups and local activists seeking to curtail the landfill's activities by seeking to ratify the county's already acknowledged belief that the measure is unconstitutional under existing legal precedent. The coalition also points out that Measure E would run contrary to the Justice Departmentdirective that required the Potrero Hills Landfill be sold to maintain competition in the Northern California waste market...Read More »



Casella Waste Systems Reports Loss for First Quarter; Better than Expected

Casella Waste Systems (Rutland, VT) reported a fiscal first-quarter loss, reversing a year-ago profit, as revenue dropped from lower volumes and low commodity prices hurt its recycling business. The net loss for the quarter that ended July 31 totaled $2.8 million, or $0.11 per share, compared with a profit of almost $2.2 million, or $0.08 per share, during the same period last year. The latest-quarter loss included around $500,000, or $0.02 per share, in accounting charges to refinance some debt. Revenue fell 14 percent to $135.9 million, from $157.9 million a year ago. More than half of the revenue drop was in processing and recycling revenue, which fell $13.8 million due to lower commodity prices. Solid waste revenue fell $14 million. The company said volume in economically sensitive areas fell compared with last year, with roll-off pulls and construction and demolition waste especially weak...Read More »



Opposition to Coal Ash in Maryland Likely a Harbinger for the Country

A plan by Constellation Energy (Baltimore, MD), a utility company, to dispose of up to 650,000 tons of coal ash per year at a chemical company landfill near Hawkins Point, MD is drawing local concern. According to the Baltimore Sun, residents fear that the ash, which contains a variety of toxic substances, would pollute local groundwater and threaten the Patapsco River less than a mile away. Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, which operates the landfill has applied for a state permit to accept up to 7.4 million tons of coal ash on a 65-acre tract of the site. Constellation has had to truck its waste to landfills in Virginia and Western Maryland at a cost of $1 million per year since 2007, after the groundwater surrounding old quarries where it had stored the ash had become contaminated, forcing the company to pay $1 million in fines and $54 million settlement to local residents. The state subsequently tightened its regulations to require that ash be disposed in lined sanitary landfills. Maryland Department of the Environment spokeswoman Dawn Stoltzfus said the state agency imposed its own rules on ash disposal last year after waiting nine years for the EPA to act. Local residents and activists would rather that MDE delay awarding a permit until the US EPA finishes drafting federal regulations of coal ash, which they hope will be more stringent, perhaps regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste instead...Read More »



Waste Management Expects Gas Price Decline to Hurt Earnings

Waste Management, Inc. said it expects the recent decline in natural gas prices to weigh on its third quarter, net earnings by about 4 cents per diluted share. In its recent presentation at the JPMorgan Investor conference on Sept. 16, the company explained that the decline in natural gas prices has affected the price at which it sells electricity through its many waste to energy operations. The company also commented on another part of its business that while recycling commodity prices have improved by 41% on average since the beginning of the year, volumes have "run generally flat" since the second quarter, and this was in line with previous expectations. The company plans to update its full-year forecast when it reports third-quarter earnings later this fall...Read More »



Blackstone, Others Back $780 Million Building Materials, Recycling Venture

Private equity firm Blackstone Group and other backers are investing up to $780 million in a newly formed company created to acquire building materials businesses. The new company, called Summit Materials plans to make a number acquisitions over the next 18-24 months of which at least ten are already under consideration. Summit Materials said its first acquisition is Hamm, Inc, a privately held aggregates landfill, asphalt and construction company in Perry, Kansas that will serve as a platform for future growth and development in the American Midwest. The company is looking at privately held businesses in several regions around the country, and assets that large multinational building product companies may be selling to reduce debt. At the helm is Tom Hill, the former CEO of Oldcastle Inc, the $14 billion US Division of Ireland-based building material group CRH, Plc...Read More »



North American Cogeneration Market to Grow to 134,022 MW by 2015

The North American cogeneration market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.7 percent from 2008 to 2015, reaching 134,022 MW in 2015, according to a report from Frost & Sullivan. It is likely that the cogeneration market will benefit from rising costs to produce power from traditional fossil fuels, increases in electricity demand, aging equipment, and more stringent environmental standards. To promote cogeneration or combined heat and power production (CHP), governments are rolling out numerous incentives, subsidies, favorable emissions legislation, and loan programs. However, the volatility of natural gas prices tends to discourage of delay investments in cogeneration equipment, such as gas turbines. The market is likely to continue to compensate by investing in systems that use biomass as the primary or alternative fuel. Technological advances are providing greater flexibility to a facility by switching fuels, shifting loads, and shaving peaks...Read More »



EPA Releases List of 584 Coal Ash Ponds; Fuels Debate on Regulation

The EPA has released its recently completed list showing that there are 584 coal ash ponds operating in 35 states, leading environmentalists to argue that these ponds, which power plants use to dispose of spent coal ash, are more widespread and less safe than previously thought and should be regulated under strict hazardous waste management rules. EPA released the survey results following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from a coalition of environmentalists. It documents existing problems at such sites as well as dozens of events in the past involving leaks or discharges of waste ranging from several hundred gallons to several million. The results come from self-reported information gathered from coal-fired electricity utilities as requested by the EPA following pressure from Congress after a catastrophic ash pond failure on Dec. 22, 2008, which released more than a billion gallons of the waste over 300 acres and into two rivers. EPA has said it intends to issue a rulemaking on coal ash by the end of the calendar year, though it has not indicated whether it will regulate the ash as a hazardous or solid waste...Read More »



Magnum D'Or Resources Acquires Huge Tire Landfill in Colorado

Rubber recycler Magnum D'Or Resources, Inc. (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) said it has acquired a scrap tire landfill in Hudson, CO, a facility that the company described as one of the largest tire landfills in the world and possibly the largest in the U.S. It is located about 50 miles northeast of Denver, has an inventory of at least 30 million tires, although some state officials reportedly say that there may be three times that number. "We plan on making this site a state-of-the-art facility that should be a model for the rest of the country, if not the world, to demonstrate the ability to recycle waste products into useful and viable products that actually enhance people's lives," said Magnum President and CEO Joseph Glusic. "This is only the tip of the iceberg of things to come. Magnum is positioned to be a world-leader rubber recycler having next-generation rubber recycling solutions for custom compounds, retread compounds, processing aids, advanced state-of-the-art equipment, and reactivated ambient/cryogenic rubber powders for the global market."...Read More »



EPA Waste Chief Solicits Stakeholder's Advice on Waste Programs

EPA waste chief Mathy Stanislaus has indicated that he wants advice from stakeholders outside the agency on improving waste programs, particularly to make decision-making more transparent and to enhance public involvement processes. Stanislaus, who became assistant administrator of the Office of Solid Waste & Emergency Response (OSWER) in May and previously was a New York City environmental justice advocate, recently sent a memo to thousands of groups and individuals. In it, he solicits suggestions for "restructuring OSWER programs to provide greater transparency in our decision making and more accessibility to information, especially for vulnerable communities. "How should EPA's process for developing and issuing policy, rules, or guidance be opened so that we can gain from your experience and insights? How can we develop better strategies for handling waste or cleaning up contaminated sites? How should we enhance or redesign the public processes used at individual cleanup sitesso that local communities are more fully informed and consulted?" EPA will be hosting video town hall meetings for interested groups to speak with EPA officials, and will soon launch an online OSWER discussion forum that will post and respond to comments on specific topics...Read More »



Alaskan Landfill to Get $4.6 Million from Recovery Act

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) announced that the City of Emmonak will receive a $3.2 million loan and a $1.4 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to construct a new landfill. Emmonak's funds are part of $172.5 million in funding for water and environmental projects that the United States Department of Agriculture has allocated. In total, the ARRA is expected to bring more than $1 billion to Alaska over the next two years...Read More »


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