Weekly News Bulletin: Oct. 19-25, 2010


Waste Connections 3Q Revenues and Earnings Up on Volume and Pricing

Waste Connections (Folsom, CA) said that third quarter earnings benefited from increased waste volume into its landfills, increased pricing and higher special waste activity. For the third quarter, the company earned $41.0 million, or $0.53 per share, up from $34.1 million, or $0.43 per share, a year ago. Revenue rose 9.4 percent to $345.8 million. The company also authorized a three-for-two split of its common stock and set a quarterly cash dividend of 7.5 cents per split-adjusted share. "We believe the initiation of an ongoing dividend combined with our third stock split demonstrates our continuing commitment to both broaden our investor base and maximize returns to stockholders," Waste Connections Chairman and CEO Ronald J. Mittelstaedt said in a statement...Read More »



Rhode Island Central Landfill Desperate to Expand, and it Will Cost

Rhode Island's Central Landfill, which is the primary destination for the vast majority of the state's waste for three decades, is running out of space. The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp. (RIRRC), which is the quasi-governmental entity that owns and operates the landfill, hopes to win approval to expand a final area of the site which will extend its life by 22 years. That is based on its current intake of 750,000 tons of waste per year. The landfill occupies a 250-acre footprint on an 1,100 acre site of which about 100 acres remain that can be developed. However, to use the new area will require the demolition of five buildings, including the landfill-gas-to-energy plant, and the corporate headquarters that had cost $42 million to construct in the first place.

It is the direct result of years of poor planning, mismanagement and cronyism. The current administration, which took over in 2007, uncovered nearly $75 million in wasted expenses between 1999 and 2007 including the construction of an unnecessary $40 million transfer station. The current RIRRC has filed three lawsuits against former financial advisors and accountants which it accuses of negligence and breach of contract in making improper investments. The only alternative to the landfill is to construct a waste-to-energy plant, deemed unlikely since it has already been debated for 20 years and counting, or more likely, shipping the waste out-of-state. Either scenario will result in dramatically higher waste disposal costs for the many small municipalities who use the landfill at a subsidized $32 per ton tipping fee for the last 19 years. It was an example of economic flow control that ensured the long term viability of the landfill...Read More »



California Presents Plan to Limit Greenhouse Gases from Biorefineries

Anticipating a boom in the construction of biofuel production facilities, or "biorefineries," California regulators have unveiled a broad strategy to reduce potential pollutants, including greenhouse gases (GHGs), from the new facilities. The "Air Quality Guidance for Siting Biorefineries in California," released Oct. 11 by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) could be a model for other states or federal regulators as new biorefineries are built across the country to reduce petroleum use and lower the carbon content of transportation fuel. It may eventually apply to waste-to-fuel facilities. California officials are expecting dozens of new biorefineries, including those that produce ethanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel and hydrogen, to be built in the coming years to help oil companies meet their obligations under the state's low carbon fuel standard (LCFS), and to meet a state goal of increasing biofuels production. The report covers a number of different processes to make: ethanol from grains, sugarcane and cellulose; biodiesel; renewable diesel; biogas; hydrogen; and biogasoline and evaluates a number of conversion technologies including fermentation, hydrolysis, gasification, transesterification, anaerobic digestion, reformation, and acid fermentation...Read More »



EPA Finds Ash Recycling Program Violated Ethics Rules

A report by the EPA's Inspector General concluded that the agency violated its own ethics policies by misleading the public on the risks of reusing coal ash while simultaneously considering new regulations for disposing of the waste. The report takes issue with EPA's Coal Combustion Products Partnership, an agency-industry partnership started during the previous administration that encourages the reuse of coal ash and other byproducts of burning coal. EPA suspended its participation in the program last year when it began crafting federal rules on coal ash disposal that would replace programs run by individual states. However, the program website remained active for nearly two months after EPA unveiled its proposed regulations. The Inspector General's report says EPA failed to disclose potential risks of some types of coal ash reuse that it had identified while evaluating proposed regulations.

The report comes as EPA considers two options for a final rule regulating coal ash disposal. One would regulate ash as a hazardous waste that would set new more stringent requirements for storing and monitoring the waste in dry landfills; the other option would classify the waste as nonhazardous, setting federal disposal guidelines but leaving enforcement to the states and citizen lawsuits. Of the 136 million tons of coal ash and other coal wastes generated in 2008, about 45 percent was reused. Industry worries that regulating it as hazardous would discourage continued beneficial reuse as end users would be wary of potential liability...Read More »



Industry Urges Delay in New California Landfill Fees

Waste industry groups continue to urge the California waste department to at least delay a proposed fee on hundreds of landfills, arguing that it is particularly burdensome in the current economic environment and il-timed with upcoming political elections. In an Oct. 8 letter to the department, a coalition of a dozen entities, including the California State Association of Counties, Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, and Waste Management, Inc., urges the department to delay further consideration of the fee. California's Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) says the new fee is comparable to regulatory fees already in place for state water board and toxics department programs and necessary to finance recently adopted "financial assurance" rules that are aimed at protecting the state from paying for landfill cleanups where operators default or go bankrupt. In addition, the department says it is earning less revenue as a result of lower landfill volumes in the economic downturn and has become a victim of its own success in encouraging more diversion from landfills. Collectively, the members of the coalition considered a position of strong opposition to the proposed fee regulations, but the group "ultimately resolved that a request for delay of action is more appropriate until the many complex issues discussed are more fully addressed," the letter states...Read More »



Will County, IL and Waste Management Break Ground on 8 MW Landfill Gas Plant

Officials with Will County, IL and Waste Management have broken ground on a new landfill gas-to-energy facility that will eventually power as many as 8,000 homes by 2012. Waste Management, which operates the Prairie View Landfill, will purchase the methane, which is currently being flared off, from the county, generate electricity, which it will sell in turn to ComEd, a division of Exelon. The project is expected to net the county $1 million annually. The $7.2 million waste-to-energy plant is being funded by Waste Management with help from Will County which is contributing a $1 million grant from the US Energy Department. The system will utilize up to 8 20-cylinder engines that will burn methane to create electricity...Read More »



Waste Management Opens Landfill Gas Project in Petrolia, ON

Waste Management is opening a new landfill gas to energy (LFGTE) project at its Petrolia Landfill in Ontario exactly one year after breaking ground on the project. The 2-megawatt project is expected to provide enough electricity to power 2,500 homes...Read More »



Perma-Fix to Sell Remaining Industrial Operations to Focus on Nuclear

Perma-Fix Environmental Services, Inc. (Atlanta, GA) announced plans to sell its remaining industrial operations to focus exclusively on nuclear waste services. The industrial operations include Perma-Fix of Ft. Lauderdale Inc., Perma-Fix of Orlando Inc. and Perma-Fix of South Georgia Inc. The company says it has already been approached by interested buyers. In 2009, the facilities accounted for about 8 percent of the company's total revenues and about 5 percent of total assets. "We see a number of exciting growth drivers in our Nuclear Segment that we believe will require our undivided attention," said Louis F. Centofanti, Perma-Fix chairman and CEO, in a statement. "Foremost among these opportunities is our move into treating higher activity wastes. We believe this is a vast, untapped market." Beginning in May 2007, the company announced its intention to sell its industrial segment. An $11 million deal with EQ - The Environmental Quality Company fell through and was followed by a $13.1 million deal with Triumvirate Environmental Inc. In March, 2008, the company sold its Dayton Industrial Facility for $2.1 Million and followed in May with the sale of its Tulsa, OK industrial facility for $1.5 million...Read More »



WCA Waste Corp. to Announce Third Quarter Results on October 28

WCA Waste Corp. (Houston, TX) will report third quarter financial results after the close of the market on October 28 and host a conference call the following morning at 8:30 am (ET)...Read More »


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