Weekly News Bulletin: Apr. 13-19, 2010


US Slow to Embrace Waste-to-Energy; Europe Powers Ahead Says NY Times

As a paper of record, The New York Times created a stir with its story calling the US a laggard to Denmark's embrace of waste to energy. They pointed to Denmark's 29 plants which serve 5.5 million people and 98 municipalities, while the United States, a country of more than 300 million people, having only 87 trash-burning power plants, most of which were built 15 years ago.

Conspicuously absent were interviews with any waste industry executives who might have bolstered the case for responsible landfills, or reminded us that ash produced by burning must still be landfilled, or even shown us the math. If 29 waste-to-energy facilities serve 5 million there, then we would need between 1,000 and 1,800 such facilities here in the US. Collectively, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands have 400 plants.

But obstacles to bringing more plants online in the United States are multifold, according to Matt Hale, director of the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery at U.S. EPA. He cited the relative abundance of cheap landfills in the country, and opposition from state officials who fear the plants could undercut recycling programs and lead to a "negative public perception."

Waste-to-energy is expensive. Its capital costs have been a significant barrier to all but the most expensive markets in places where a high population density puts a large premium on available land. But even in New York, the article points out, whose Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a champion of various "green" projects, has shied away from pursuing the technology. His press secretary said that moving forward with such a project would take "years of hearings and reviews," largely due to debate over where to build...Read More »



Environmental Groups Petition EPA to Refocus Methane Program

A coalition of 10 environmental groups are petitioning EPA to restructure its voluntary landfill methane capture program so that it aims to reduce production of the greenhouse gas (GHG) rather than emphasizing its use as an energy resource. The April 6 petition also argues that the program's current focus contradicts EPA's waste office's stated goal of waste minimization. Separately, The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which is not part of the coalition, is also suing EPA to force strict new source performance standards (NSPS) to cut landfill emissions. The coalition that signed the petition includes Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, the Center for a Competitive Waste Industry, the City of Madison, WI, and others.

"Fugitive methane is only created when organics are buried in landfills, where anaerobic conditions prevail," the petition says." It argues that composting these wastes is a far better option that avoids methane emissions and restores nutrients to depleted soils...Read More »



NSWMA Opposes Proposed Financial Assurance Rules

The waste industry is concerned about an EPA initiative to require solid waste facilities to acquire financial assurance under Superfund that would be in addition to current requirements and despite their not managing any hazardous wastes. This week, The National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) filed comments opposing the proposal that would require non-hazardous landfills to certify under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund Act. "The U.S. EPA should not unnecessarily burden the solid waste industry with these additional financial responsibilities. Rules already in place under RCRA require financial assurance, and the intent of Subtitles D criteria is to prevent these situations. Also, our industry no longer manages CERCLA wastes that these proposed rules are intended to cover," said Bruce J. Parker, president and CEO of NSWMA, in a press release. "Our industry has a tradition of supporting reasonable regulation; unfortunately, these proposed rules seem to be a solution searching for a problem."...Read More »



Waste Management Promotes Head of Organic Growth to Senior Team; Reflects New Direction

Waste Management promoted the head of its organic growth group to its Senior Leadership Team. The appointment is both about the sterling qualifications of Carl Rush as well as it is a testament to a newer corporate vision. "Carl's promotion to the senior team will enhance our focus on processing and converting the materials that we collect from our customers. Our customers are searching for new solutions for the materials they produce, and Carl and his group will help to provide those solutions," said CEO David Steiner. The company noted many of its recent initiatives including a liquefied natural gas venture with Linde, a venture with Terrabon and Valero to convert organic wastes into gasoline, joint ventures with S4 and Enerkem to develop plasma gasification technology, an organics deal with Harvest Power, solar-powered garbage cans and many services to help customers lower their carbon footprints...Read More »



Industry Wants Controversial Compliance Option for Boiler MACT

An industry coalition is asking EPA and the White House to back a risk-based compliance option to maximum achievable control technology (MACT) for industrial boilers and biomass facilities. MACT dictates that facilities would be required to deploy technology that meets or exceeds the average of the top 12 percent of best performing sources. Industry groups, including the petroleum, automaker and paper sectors are pushing for the risk-based "off-ramp" and a modified approach that would instead set limits based on a facility-specific risk assessment.

The rule is expected to set limits for five key air toxics, including mercury and other metals, organics, dioxin and hydrogen chloride. Industry worries that if EPA could adopt rules that might be impossible to meet and add $46 billion in new costs. As a result, industry is urging EPA to correct what it says are biases in the data the agency collected to support the upcoming proposal and accept comments on varying approaches to meet the standard...Read More »



Foster Wheeler Wins $326 Million Contract for World's Largest 100% Biomass Boiler

Foster Wheeler AG announced that its Global Power Group has been awarded a contract by GDF SUEZ for the design and construction of a circulating fluidized-bed boiler for a proposed 190-megawatt 100 percent biomass-fueled power station near Polaniec, Poland. The value of the contract is estimated to be EUR$240 million (or $326 million). Foster Wheeler will design and supply the steam generator, auxiliary equipment and biomass yard, and construct the boiler island. GDF Suez and Foster Wheeler say it will be the world's largest biomass boiler fueled by wood chips and biomass crops once complete in the fourth-quarter of 2012. It is expected to burn 222,000 tons of agri-fuels and 890,000 tons of woody biomass each year. GDF Suez has more than 50 sites in the U.S., Europe and Brazil that annually consume more than 2 million tons of biomass for power generation...Read More »



Plasco Energy Signs Agreement with Beijing to Build Plasma Facility

Plasco Energy (Kanata, ON) said it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Beijing Environmental Sanitation Engineering Group Co (BESG) that expresses the intention to construct a plasma waste demonstration facility of at least 200 tons-per-day with the intention of building a larger 1,000 ton-per-day facility at a Beijing site to be provided by BESG. Plasco Energy owns and operates a proprietary technology that converts solid waste into energy using plasma gasification. BESG is an enterprise owned by the City of Beijing with responsibilities that include managing the City's 18,000 tons per day of waste currently being landfilled. "This is an outstanding opportunity for Plasco to develop a relationship with BMAC and BESG. Successful operation of this facility will open immense market opportunities in Beijing and in many other communities in China," said Plasco CEO Roderick M. Bryden...Read More »



NRG Energy Wins 15-MW Biomass Power Installation Contract

NRG Energy Inc. (Princeton, NJ) received a 10-year contract from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for power generated using renewable biomass fuel at its Dunkirk Generating Station in western New York. The project, which is expected to be online by the end of 2011, will produce up to 15 megawatts (MW) of the station's total output by co-firing with clean wood biomass. "Adding sustainable biomass to the fuel mix cuts emissions and supports the state's goal of producing 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015," said Drew Murphy, President of NRG's Northeast Region. "This project will . . . produce enough electricity to power 12,000 households." New York adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2004. Last year, the New York Public Service Commission, acting on a goal set by Governor David Paterson, expanded the RPS goal to increase the proportion of renewable electricity sold in New York from 25 percent to 30 percent by 2015...Read More »



New Landfill Gas-to-Energy Facility in Morristown TN

Montauk Energy (Pittsburgh, PA) is set to begin operating a 1 megawatt landfill-gas-to-energy (LFGTE) project located near the Hamblen County-Morristown landfill in Tennessee. The county will not have to invest any money in the project for which it will receive royalties estimated to reach $200,000 per year, a few years from now. The project is expected to furnish enough electricity for about 1,000 homes...Read More »



Covanta Holding Corp. to Release First Quarter Earnings on April 22

Covanta Holding Corp. said it will announce first quarter financial results after the close of the market on Wednesday, April 21 and host a conference call the following day at 8:30 a.m...Read More »



Waste Connections to Release First Quarter Earnings on April 20

Waste Connections said it will announce first quarter results after the close of the market on Tuesday, April 20 and host a conference call the following day at 8:30 a.m. (Eastern) to discuss them...Read More »



IESI-BFC and Waste Services to Announce 1Q Earnings on April 27

IESI-BFC Ltd. (formerly BFI Canada) and Waste Services, Inc., which announced their merger last November, will both announce first quarter earnings on Tuesday, April 27 after the close of the markets. Both companies will host conference calls the following day to discuss results. IESI-BFC will host its call at 8:30 a.m. (Eastern). Waste Services will follow at 10 a.m. (Eastern)...Read More »


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