Weekly News Bulletin: Jun. 1-7, 2010


Supreme Court Sides with North Carolina in Nuclear Waste Dispute

The US Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina does not have to pay $80 million for withdrawing from an eight-state nuclear waste compact. North Carolina was one of eight states to agree to the Southeast Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Compact, approved by Congress in 1986. The compact was administered by a commission which designated North Carolina as a host state and declared it "appropriate and necessary" for other states to provide financial assistance which totaled nearly $80 million by 1997. At that point, the Commission withdrew additional funding pending a plan by the state to finance the remainder of the facility and even obtain a license. Without additional funding, North Carolina then withdrew from the compact. The commission responded by sanctioning the state $90 million for breaching the compact. By 2003 only four states remained in the compact -- Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia. They joined the commission in asking the Supreme Court to file a bill of complaint against North Carolina. The high court agreed and assigned the case to Special Master Bradford Clark, who urged the justices to dismiss the complaint. Clark said the commission had no power to sanction North Carolina, and even if it did, North Carolina had withdrawn from the compact before sanctions were imposed. The primary opinion from Justice Antonin Scalia agreed with the master that the compact's terms did not allow the commission to impose monetary sanctions on North Carolina under "sovereign immunity."...Read More »



S&P See Positive Waste Industry Outlook, At Last

Standard & Poor's (S&P) has adopted an optimistic view of the waste management and environmental services industry. The rating agency said that it expects steadily improving collection volume, especially towards the end of the year that along with strong cash generation, pricing initiatives and cost control efforts will boost the profitability of waste and environmental services companies. Haulers are expected to continue to shed underperforming assets and acquire accretive niche businesses and "tuck-ins", while raising prices to drive top-line growth. Enhanced customer service should stem lost business to higher pricing. Acquisitions will be driven by a more difficult environment for smaller haulers in the soft economy and relatively low acquisition multiples. Even though construction and demolition (C&D) volume will remain weak near term, it should improve sequentially with any economic recovery. Commodity recycling prices too should rebound further, especially from their record lows of early 2009...Read More »



'Seinfeld' Actor Helps to Launch Waste-to-Energy Company

Television actor John O'Hurley, best known for his portrayal of J. Peterman on "Seinfeld," and as host of "Family Feud," has become an investing partner in a new company Energy-Inc. that processes hog manure and other wastes to energy. The Nevada-based company uses what it calls "Advanced Thermal Conversion Technology (ATCT)" already employed in Europe and Asia, where it was helped by higher fuel prices in those markets. Subsequent technology improvement has made it more suitable for the US market and large amounts of waste. The ATCT approach uses pyrolytic gasification to convert municipal solid waste, agriculture waste, wood waste, or other non-metal and non-hazardous waste into a synthesis gas that is either burned for energy or converted into methanol or ethanol. The closed system produces steam, heat, hot water and residual biochar. The company recently signed a deal to install a 12-ton per day system at High Ridge Farms, a large 3,000-hog farm in Greenville,NC...Read More »



Florida PSC Approves 100 MW Biomass Plant in Gainesville

American Renewables (Boston, MA) and the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center won approval for their joint 100-megawatt biomass power plant from Florida's Public Service Commission. The plant, which is expected to be operational by year-end, will utilize a variety of waste wood materials to provide power to about 70,000 homes in the Gainesville area. American Renewables will build, own and operate the facility and will sell all energy and associated environmental attributes to Gainesville Regional Utilities under a 30-year contract. "The PSC has taken an important step today toward significantly expanding Florida's commitment to renewable energy," said Jim Gordon, CEO of American Renewables. "The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center will bring reliable, cost-effective renewable energy to GRU customers and spur significant economic development in north central Florida."...Read More »



New York Assembly Approves E-waste Legislation

The New York state legislature passed an electronics waste (e-waste) recycling bill that awaits final approval. The bill aims to create a statewide electronic equipment reuse and recycling program by requiring manufactures to accept for recycling or reuse based on the market share of their products sold in the state and establishes surcharges for failure to meet those standards. Those companies would have to provide "free and convenient" recycling to consumers but could charge a modest fee to larger private-sector business and non-profits. The bill places a disposal ban on electronics, to be fully phased-in by 2015.

The state legislation would supersede New York City's e-waste recycling program, which has been challenged by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and Information Technology Industry Council (ITI). They argued that NYC's law was unconstitutional in requiring companies with little to no control over whether their products were sold into the city and those with only a minimal presence there faced an undue burden to help pay for a program that was estimated to cost $200 million a year to implement...Read More »



Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Kern County Sludge Case

The US Supreme Court refused to hear a case challenging a California county's ban on biosolids from another municipality. Officials from Los Angeles and Orange counties were urging the Supreme Court to help them challenge nearby Kern County's ban on spreading sewage sludge on farmland, called Measure E, arguing that an appellate court's ruling ignored the impact on interstate commerce. The High Court's decision leaves in place rulings by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that declared Measure E did not illegally hamper interstate commerce protections. Still at issue however, are state-level legal challenges to the sludge ban's validity: a claim that Measure E violated state recycling rules in the Integrated Waste Management Act and that Kern County overstepped its police powers by creating a law that polices another government entity. The case will go back to the 9th Circuit where U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess will decide whether to dismiss the remaining issues as matters of state court or rule on the merits of the claims...Read More »



Activists Want EPA to Spell Out Beneficial Coal Ash Reuse

Environmentalists are taking issue with regulatory exemptions for beneficial reuse of coal combustion ash included by the EPA in its proposed coal ash waste rules and filing a lawsuit arguing that a state run beneficial ash use violates state and federal environmental laws. EPA's May 4 proposed Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) rule for coal ash disposal includes two options both of which completely exemt waste that is beneficially reused in various products including cement. A broad coalition of environmental groups in a May 20 summary of the proposal criticized the reuse exemption. They say the agency should instead use the proposal to codify that some reuse is safe such as encapsulating it in cement, while its use in construction or agricultural fill is not. The coalition, which includes Earthjustice, the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), Sierra Club and others, also wants EPA to issue a strict hazardous waste rule under RCRA subtitle C, and strongly opposes other optionsin the agency's proposal that includes classifying the material as solid waste under subtitle D of the waste law...Read More »



Casella Wins State Approval for MSW into a Massachusetts Landfill

Casella Waste Systems (Rutland, VT) said that it won permit approval from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to convert its Southbridge Sanitary Landfill to 180,960 tons per year of municipal solid waste (MSW). The facility's previous permit was for 180,960 tons per year of construction and demolition (C&D) residuals, and limited MSW from the town of Southbridge only. "We have worked closely with the Town of Southbridge to develop this important long-term project that will create substantial value for the community and for our stakeholders," said company chairman and CEO John W. Casella. The Company now plans to move forward with plans to expand the annual capacity limit to 405,000 tons of MSW per year, including development of a landfill gas-to-energy facility at the site, all of which will make the site a far more efficient and profitable operation...Read More »



Smurfit-Stone Reaches Deal to End Bankruptcy

Smurfit Stone Container Corp. (Creve Coeur, MO) said it reached an agreement with its shareholders who had previously objected to its plans to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. A major concession was to give shareholders 2.25 percent of the stock in the reorganized company in which they would have gotten nothing under a previous proposal that involved giving all stock to unsecured creditors. The new deal dilutes the recovery for bondholders. Smurfit-Stone, a producer of containerboard and corrugated packaging as well as one of the world's largest paper recyclers, filed for Chapter 11 projection in January 2009 after a rise in raw materials costs coincided with a drop in demand and tight credit markets. The agreement comes as the company is enjoying a rebound in demand for its cardboard packaging and just days before a Delaware Bankruptcy Court judge was expected to rule on the company's proposed reorganization...Read More »



EPA's Lisa Jackson Advocates Crackdown on E-waste Trafficking

U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson called for increased efforts to combat illegal trafficking of electronic waste (e-waste). Speaking at a meeting of Interpol's global e-waste crime group, Jackson said that growing demand from developed countries for the latest electronic gadgets was creating an ever larger volume of obsolete equipment that "too often ends up illegally overseas in developing countries, in countries like India and Africa -- on the African continent -- where labor is cheaper and workers are often less safe." "Through a combination of legislation and regulation, we know that we can create incentives to spur the design of better, safer electronics," Jackson said. "We can stop the problems you're all dealing with before they begin." She said the US "can take steps toward ratifying the Basel Convention." To date, the US has not ratified the 1989 treaty to regulate hazardous waste, including electronics that has already been signed by 165 countries. She also emphasized the importance of effective enforcement to combat illegal exports. A UN agency report released earlier this year warned of increasing electronic scrap ending up in developing countries where it leads to serious public health and environmental hazards...Read More »



SWANA Endorses Conclusions of Landfill Gas Report

SWANA's International Board of Directors has judged that a recent report entitled "The Importance of Landfill Gas Capture and Utilization in the U.S." presents a valid representation of US practices. In a press release, SWANA said it agreed with certain conclusions of the report, specifically "that organics diversion, composting, and/or other waste management options, which are sometimes viewed as alternatives to landfills, are more properly considered as complementary waste management tools. Furthermore, all such practices must be judged on their own merits, including cost-effectiveness, environmental impacts and operational efficiency." And, they agree that "lowering greenhouse gas emissions is best achieved by a concerted, integrated approach that employs all available technologies and methods, including reuse, recycling, composting, waste-to-energy, and landfilling with capture of landfill gas." SWANA's Landfill Gas Division represents over 600 members and is recognized as a leading authority on landfill gas recovery, utilization and management...Read More »



Casella to Report Fiscal Fourth Quarter Earnings on June 7

Casella Waste Systems will release fourth quarter fiscal 2010 results after the market closes on Monday, June 7, and host a conference call the following morning at 10 am (EDT)...Read More »


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