Weekly News Bulletin: Jan. 12-18, 2010


Industry Fights Proposal to Regulate Coal Ash as Hazardous Waste

Industries that reuse spent coal ash are urging the EPA to use its existing Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) enforcement authority to regulate waste ponds and landfills, rather than its proposed but controversial approach to regulate the ash as a hazardous waste subject to strict storage, handling and disposal requirements. Representatives of Separation Technologies, LLC, a company that provides technologies to reuse fly ash in concrete and the Gypsum Association, which uses washed gypsum from flu-gas desulfurization to replace virgin material in wall board, have met separately with EPA and White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) officials to push the idea.

Section 7003 of RCRA provides the EPA administrator with broad authority to issue unilateral administrative orders requiring facilities to take actions "as may be necessary" in the event that any waste poses an "imminent and substantial endangerment." The approach is an alternative to the agency's stalled controversial hybrid plan for addressing discarded coal ash as hazardous, subject to strict RCRA subtitle C handling and disposal rules, while waste material that is reused in concrete, dry wall or other safe beneficial uses be considered non-hazardous.

The Industry argues that such a hybrid approach would impose a stigma on the recycled coal waste, leaving it vulnerable to litigation and prompting companies to stop supplying ash for use in the material, a significantly cheaper disposal option than landfilling or storing the ash...Read More »



Plan to Ship Hawaiian Waste Stateside Delayed

A novel plan to ship waste from Hawaii to a landfill in Washington State has met with further bureaucratic delays. According to an article in the Associated Press, the company behind the plan, Seattle-based Hawaiian Waste Systems (HWS), said that approval of an amendment to its federal permit has taken much longer than expected. The original plan involved transporting about 100,000 tons of waste per year in shrink-wrapped bales in sealed containers to the Roosevelt landfill in Washington State via the Columbia River. However, the company realized that it would be more efficient to instead unload the wastes onto trains at Lower Columbia ports - Longview, Rainier or Vancouver which would save four to five days shipping time. Switching transportation plans requires approval from the Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APIS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. APIS's approval of the original plan back in 2004 led Jim Hodge, chief executive for HWS, to believe that approval of the amended plan would take only a few months. It now appears that will not happen until April. In the meantime, HWS has been collecting waste and is now in possession of 300 tons of baled Hawaiian garbage waiting for a new home...Read More »



Georgia Power Delays Biomass Plant, Citing EPA Rule Uncertainty

Georgia Power, a unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co., said that it is delaying the planned conversion of a coal-fired power plant to biomass due to uncertainty over new EPA rules for industrial boilers that could affect the project. The company said it plans to postpone retrofitting its 155-megawatt Mitchell power plant in southwest Georgia to run on wood waste until April 2010, when the EPA is expected to clarify rules on emissions from industrial boilers. Biomass boilers, like the one proposed for the Mitchell Plant, could be affected, the company said. The utility had planned to begin retrofit construction there in April 2011, with biomass operations to begin in June 2012. Instead, the company said it will study alternative boiler technologies in case the EPA rules adversely affect the project economics. Georgia Power serves 2.3 million electric customers across most of the state...Read More »



Schwarzenegger Appoints Acting Director of New CalRecycle Agency

As expected, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Margo Reid Brown to be the chief deputy director and acting director of the state's new Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). The department was established through the elimination of the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) and the merger of its duties with those of the Department of Conservation's Recycling Division "to more effectively manage the disposal of state waste and recycling efforts to protect public health and the environment," the governor's office said. Brown had served as the chair of the Integrated Waste Management Board since 2006.

Since the middle of last year, the Governor had sought to eliminate CIWMB as part of his campaign to address the state's then $24.3 billion deficit. Even though the board was almost entirely self-sustaining -- funded by landfill taxes and fees on the sale of tires, televisions and other goods -- its highly paid board positions had come under political attack. The Governor had also argued that the money it spent as guided by state law to be allocated to waste and recycling related programs would be better spent elsewhere...Read More »



Ohio's Apex Environmental Wins Big Expansion

Environmental Logistics Services (ELS) announced that its Apex Environmental landfill in Ohio received permit approvals allowing for an expansion of its vertical capacity that will extend the life of the landfill for several years. The landfill is also authorized to receive more waste per day: now 7,500 tons from a previous limit of 5,250 tons per day. ELS also operates a rail transloading facility in Kearny, NJ from which it rails waste to its Apex Environmental Landfill. ELS was formed with Centre Partners Management, LLC acquisition of Liberty Waste Services in Dec. 2007. The company is capitalizing on the increasing need to export waste from the Northeast and the improving economics of doing so by rail...Read More »



Hollywood Career Beckons for Waste Management Executive

A new CBS reality television series called "Undercover Boss" will feature Larry O'Donnell, President and COO of Waste Management in its first episode. The series follows corporate executives who slip anonymously into low-rung jobs in their companies. The first episode, which will immediately follow the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, will feature O'Donnell as he poses as a substitute worker assigned to riding garbage trucks, cleaning portalets, scavenging stray paper, sorting recyclables and other glamorous jobs within his sprawling organization. CBS previewed the episode at its May "upfront" presentation for advertisers to a strong response. The Super Bowl traditionally gets the biggest TV audience of the year, and the show following it benefits from people who keep their TV on...Read More »



AbitibiBowater Sells Texas Material Recycling Facilities to Waste Management

Waste Management is buying three material recovery facilities in Arlington, Houston and San Antonio, Texas from paper producer AbitibiBowater for $12 million. AbitibiBowater said the sale will allow it to concentrate more on its Paper Retriever recycling program and EcoRewards program for commercial customers. The company will continue to operate the recycling programs in the three cities, but Waste Management Recycle America will process the materials generated by the recycling programs. The transaction is part of AbitibiBowater's ongoing restructuring efforts to streamline its businesses and work through its creditor protection filings...Read More »



Waste Management Buys Milwaukee Automated C&D Recycling Operation

Waste Management Inc. acquired City Wide Recycling LLC which has a large automated construction and demolition recycling facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The transaction closed on Dec. 31, 2009. Waste Management said that environmentally sensitive contractors are driving the market for recycling of construction and demolition wastes combined with a Wisconsin state mandate that requires contractors to recycle at least 50% of the waste produced during construction of state building projects of $5 million or more. According to Waste Business Journal, 143 million tons of construction and demolition wastes were generated in 2008 of which about 28% were recycled. A recent survey of contractors found that 61% of them rated waste recovery as the second most important aspect in green building, just behind energy efficiency, according to a November 2009 study conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction with support from Waste Management. Waste Management is North America's largest recycler, handling about 8 million tons of recyclables a year. The company has a goal of recycling triple that volume by 2020...Read More »



Plasma Facility Delivering Syngas for Conversion to Ethanol

Alter NRG Corp. (Calgary, AB), which owns the Westinghouse plasma gasification technology, announced that its Madison, PA operation is successfully operating and delivering clean synthesis gas (syngas) to the adjacent cellulosic ethanol conversion facility operated by Coskata, Inc. Coskata's $25 million semi-commercial facility dubbed "Project Lighthouse," accepts syngas created by the plasma gasification of cellulosic material and converts it into ethanol. An analysis of the process by Argonne National Laboratory found that it delivers 7.7 units of energy per unit of energy used in the process and that it reduces CO(2) emissions by up to 96 percent compared with a well-to-wheel analysis of gasoline. The process relies on using special strains of anaerobic microbes that consume carbon monoxide and hydrogen to produce ethanol exclusively and therefore requires no further distillation. The use of Alter NRG's Westinghouse gasifier at the front end allows for more variable feedstocks, not just agricultural wastes, but also municipal solid wastes (MSW)...Read More »



New Executive Director for Air & Waste Management Association

The Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA) has appointed Mike Kelly as its new Executive Director. In this role, he is charged with leading its operations, growing membership, and extending its outreach to government officials and industry executives. Prior to joining A&WMA, Kelly worked as a contractor with the Home Builder's Association of Greater Chicago and as CEO of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, a trade association for the kitchen and bath industry. He currently serves as a trustee on the National Board of Destination Imagination, an international youth education and leadership nonprofit...Read More »



Waste Connections to Report 4th Quarter and Year-End on Feb. 8

Waste Connections plans to report fourth quarter and year-end financial results after the close of the stock market on February 8. The company will host a conference call the following day at 8:30 a.m. (Eastern Time)...Read More »


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