Weekly News Bulletin: Mar. 2-8, 2010


Activists Show Coal Ash Pollution Worse than EPA Says to Push for Rule

Two environmental groups are calling attention to the urgent need for EPA to release its long-stalled rule to regulate coal waste by citing new data showing that coal ash is causing toxic water contamination at levels far higher than EPA has acknowledged. A recent report "Out of Control: Mounting Damages from Coal Ash Waste Sites," released Feb. 24 by Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), cites at least 31 cases of coal ash waste contamination in 14 states that are not listed by the EPA. Coal ash is said to threaten the environment because it often contains dangerous chemicals include arsenic, selenium, and boron.

The groups identified the sites by assembling contamination data from state files using "similar criteria" to those sites the EPA had already identified in its end-of-the-year tally of 70 coal-ash pollution sites. Contaminated water from coal-ash chemicals was found to be washing into streams and leaching into groundwater, including drinking water supplies. The sources were found to include many "dry landfill" and "structural fill" (areas where coal ash is seen as beneficial) ash impoundments, not just the wet retention-pond-type fills used by the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston plant, which spilled an estimated 1 billion gallons of sludge across 300 acres of rural Tennessee just over a year ago...Read More »



WM Invests in Waste-to-Ethanol Venture Enerkem

Montreal-based Enerkem Inc. said it raised $51.5 million from a syndicate of investors that includes waste industry giant Waste Management, Inc. to pursue ethanol-from-waste projects. The company produces ethanol from old telephone poles at its commercial-scale plant in Westbury, Quebec and is expecting to break ground on an $80-million Edmonton plant this summer. Late last year, the company won a $50-million clean-tech grant by the U.S. Department of Energy for a planned $90-million facility to produce ethanol from municipal waste in Pontotoc, Mississippi.

Enerkem has developed a gasification process that transforms post-recycled municipal solid waste into a synthesis gas that is then cleaned and refined into ethanol, methanol and acetate. Both the Edmonton and Pontotoc plants are expected to process 100,000 tons of waste into 10 million gallons of ethanol annually under long-term agreements with the host communities...Read More »



Construction Unions Side against EPA Emissions Rules

Republicans in Congress opposed to the EPA's measures to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act have an unlikely ally in a top labor leader. Mark Ayers, head of the Building and Construction Trades Department under the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) said in a Jan. 27 letter to the White House that his unions fear those rules could have "severe negative consequences," particularly to job growth. Unions under his leadership include 1.5 million members in the U.S., with more than a dozen unions representing iron-workers, electrical workers, pipe-fitters, plumbers, and boilermakers. Ayers's building and construction unions supported climate legislation in Congress but more recently warned that "overly aggressive action in the absence of effective, economical pollution control technology could result in unintended consequences that hinder employment growth necessary for a full economic recovery."...Read More »



San Diego Tribe Proposes Landfill, Free of State Regulation

A Native American tribe in San Diego County, California hopes to build a 493-acre landfill on its reservation in the eastern county along the border with Mexico. The 320-member Campo Indian band is reviving a similar proposal dating back to the 1980s that faltered amid environmental concerns and local opposition. Under its current proposal, the tribe would lease the land to BLT Enterprises, an Oxnard-based recycling company, that develops and operates recycling facilities and transfer stations, but may be best known for developing the controversial Eagle Mountain landfill which it sold the City of Los Angeles. The proposed Campo Regional Landfill would be surrounded by a square-mile of buffer area entirely on reservation land and therefore, not subject to county regulations and state environmental laws, which are among the most stringent in the country. As such it will likely draw criticism for appearances of seeking a completive cost advantage even though the landfill will still be subject tofederal and tribal laws. A draft report released this week indicates that the 3,000 ton per day landfill would accept about 138 truckloads of waste from San Diego County and elsewhere, and use 37,000 gallons of water pumped from nearby wells. That would accommodate about 15 percent of the county's needs...Read More »



Clairvest Group Makes $35 Million Investment in Hudson Valley Waste Co.

Canadian merchant bank Clairvest Group Inc. said it has made a $35.25 million investment in Hudson Valley Waste Holding, Inc., a regional waste company that collects, processes and recycles nonhazardous solid waste in the northeastern US. "After our successful exit from Winters Bros. Waste Systems Inc. in 2007, we continued to pursue domain research and networking in the waste management and environmental service sectors. We are very pleased that this effort has led to a second investment in the waste management industry," said Ken Rotman, Co-CEO and Managing Director of Clairvest...Read More »



Recology Wins $38 Million Metro Portland Contract

Recology, formerly called Norcal Waste Systems, recently won a $38 million, seven-year contract to manage a transfer station for the Metro Regional Government of Portland, Oregon. The station takes in approximately 250,000 tons of garbage per year. Under the contract, which takes effect April 1 and is the first operational change in 20 years, Recology promised to double the recovery of recyclable material to 34 percent from 17 percent currently. Recology also expects it to be carbon-neutral by 2015, in part by running the station solely on wind power purchased through PGE's alternative energy program, reducing water consumption by using high-pressure truck washing systems, employing the least toxic solvents and lubricants, and by powering its equipment with biodiesel and diesel catalytic converters...Read More »



Advanced Disposal Buys C&D Recycler Adding to Tenn. Purchases

Advanced Disposal Services, Inc. (Jacksonville, FL) recently purchased a construction and materials recycling facility near Nashville, Tenn. The acquired assets are those of Excel Waste Services, a company that has provided waste hauling and disposal services to more than 150 customers, mostly commercial, since 2004. The acquisition dove-tails with an earlier purchase last month of Nashville-based Waste Removal Services LLC, serving 170 mostly commercial customers also in the Middle Tennessee area.

"With the acquisition of this C&D recycling facility, we will give our commercial customers the ability to bid on LEED certified projects because they know that they have a waste and recycling partner in Advanced Disposal helping them reach their goals of waste reduction and sustainability throughout their business," said Gerald Greene, president of Advanced Disposal's Mid-South Area...Read More »



Airlines Receive Poor Marks on Recycling Report Card

A new report by environmental group Green America reveals that many of the larger commercial airlines have a long way to go when it comes to recycling the massive amounts of waste generated on passenger flights. According to the report, subtitled "The Sorry State of Recycling in the Airline Industry," airlines generate more than 880 million pounds (1.3 pounds per average passenger) of waste each year of which 75 percent is recyclable, but only 20 percent is actually recycled. The report cites startling statistics from 2004 National Resource Defense Council research that says airlines threw away in one year enough aluminum cans to build 58 Boeing 747 jets, 9,000 tons of plastic and enough newspaper and magazines to cover a football field 230 meters deep. Green America graded 11 airlines after reviewing a variety of sources. The highest grade, a B-, went to Delta Airlines and Virgin America, while both United Airlines and US Airways were given an F...Read More »



Casella Waste Systems Reported Fiscal 3Q Loss, Revenue Up

Casella Waste Systems (Rutland, VT) reported a less-than-expected yet still wider loss in its fiscal third quarter. The company said it lost $4.4 million, or 17 cents per share, in the period ended Jan. 31. That compares with a loss of $3.8 million, or 15 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. However, revenue rose 4.2 percent to $126.1 million from $120.9 million in the year-ago period. The company reconfirmed its fiscal 2010 that expects revenues in the range of $510 million to $530 million...Read More »



Republic Services Prices $1.5 Billion Bond Offering

Republic Services, Inc. recently launched its $1.5 billion two-part debt sale that includes $850 million of 5% 10-year notes, and $650 million of 6.2% 30-year notes. The joint active bookrunning managers are Barclays and JP Morgan. Fitch Ratings has assigned a rating of 'BBB-' to the two series of new senior unsecured notes citing the company's significant free cash flow generation potential and financial flexibility, offset somewhat by a heavy debt load following the company's merger with Allied Waste Industries, Inc. in December 2008. Republic has since reduced its debt by $700 million in 2009 and continues to make it a top priority for free cash flow deployment...Read More »



Clean Harbors 4Q Profits Down, Hurt by Eveready Acquisition

Clean Harbors, Inc. reported a lower than expected fourth-quarter profit resulting from lower utilization of its recently acquired Eveready assets. For the latest fourth quarter, net income was $13.9 million, or $0.53 per share, compared with $17.9 million, or $0.75 per share, last year. Total revenues for the quarter rose 39 percent to $347 million. "We remain cautious about the sales environment in 2010 although we are beginning to see the initial signs of recovery in many of our end-markets," Chief Executive Alan McKim said in a statement. However, the company kept its 2010 revenue view of $1.40 billion to $1.45 billion...Read More »



New Plasma Waste-to-Energy Plant in New Orleans

A New Orleans-based startup company called Sun Energy Group LLC has begun construction of a waste-to-energy plant on formerly industrial land in the eastern part of the city that had been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. The initial plant will produce about 114 net megawatts of power by employing plasma gasification to convert regular household garbage into a synthesis gas which will then be cleanly burned to produce electricity. The company's president, D'Juan Hernandez, says the plant will create 100 jobs and should be operational by late 2012 or early 2013. It is being designed to process 3,000 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) per day, gross, with metals removed for recycling...Read More »



New Draft Jobs Bill Includes Energy Tax Extenders

Draft job-creation legislation being crafted by Senate democrats includes one-year extensions of several energy-related tax credits. The 254-page legislation, the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act of 2010, includes energy tax extenders and several other provisions that had appeared in a short-lived $85 billion jobs bill introduced last month by Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) but which had been shelved by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in favor a series of smaller jobs measures. Included in the draft are extensions to 10 energy tax credits, including ones for new hybrid vehicles, bio- and renewable diesel, open-loop biomass, energy efficient homes and alternative fuels...Read More »



SPSA Plans Massive Layoffs to Stem Red Ink

According to an article in The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, the troubled Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA) in that part of Virginia expects to shed 249 jobs this year as it struggles to balance its budget and pay its massive debt. The layoffs are despite a pending deal to sell its Portsmouth waste-to-energy plant to Wheelabrator Technologies, a division of Waste Management, for $150 million. SPSA's recently released budget calls for trimming expenses by 33 percent next year. Nevertheless, it will still have to charge $170 per ton for waste disposal, the highest rates in the nation. Just three years ago the agency had 548 full-time employees. Through layoffs, early retirements and buyouts that number is down to 411 employees this year and with this next round of layoffs, the number will shrink to 162 next year...Read More »



Avalon Holdings Appoints New CEO

Warren, Ohio-based Avalon Holdings Corp., a regional waste services company, announced the appointment of Steven M. Berry as its new CEO effective March 1. He was also elected as a director of the company. Berry has over twenty-five years of experience in the waste management sector, having most recently served as an Area Vice President for Waste Management, Inc., where he was responsible for nearly a $1 billion business unit covering Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia...Read More »


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