Weekly News Bulletin: Jan. 18-24, 2011


Michigan Senators Want Further Reduction in Wastes from Canada

While touting their historic accomplishment in stemming the flow of Canadian waste into Michigan, Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Carl Levin (D-MI) lament that much still needs to be done. In 2006 the senators brokered a voluntary agreement with officials in Ontario to end municipal waste exports to Michigan. The agreement applied to residential volumes over which the municipalities had direct control. However, because private haulers also collect waste from commercial customers, not covered under the agreement, as much as 60% of the total waste stream continues to flow across the border.

The Supreme Court has ruled that only Congress, not states, can regulate interstate waste. But even if Congress passed a ban on Canadian waste, this would violate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This was the rationale for the original voluntary agreement, which Stabenow says has led to a reduction in waste imports of 1.5 million tons and 40,000 fewer trucks on the road. (Some of the reduction may also be due to the adverse economy). To address the commercial waste volumes they missed, Levin said he will seek "passage of legislation that would address the non-municipally managed Canadian trash shipments into Michigan. I also encourage state and local officials to consider their own steps to end these shipments."

One possible remedy would be to raise the state's environmental host fee which is currently only $0.21 per ton, the least expensive in the region...Read More »



Waste Management Developing New Organics Facility in Florida

Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX) is developing a new organics processing facility in Okeechobee, FL that will convert yard, food and clean wood waste into value added soil amendments and bagged lawn and garden products. The facility will be located on an 8-acre parcel adjacent to the company's Okeechobee Landfill. "We want to extract the highest value possible from the materials we manage," said Tim Hawkins, market area vice president for the company. The Okeechobee facility is part of a broader expansion by the company into deriving value through organics recycling. Last September the company bought a majority stake in Garick LLC, a manufacturer and distributor of organic lawn and garden products, helping the company expand its organics recycling capabilities to over 1 million tons. In January last year, the company made a strategic investment in Harvest Power, to develop organic waste anaerobic digestion facilities employing their technology.

More broadly, Waste Management is increasingly seeking to derive value from the waste stream, before others beat them to it, and recast itself as a resource management company that can help clients lower their environmental impacts and bottom line...Read More »



EPA Grants Greenhouse Gas Rule Exemption for Biomass

The EPA is granting an exemption under its controversial greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting requirements, saying that it will provide a three-year reprieve for facilities that burn biomass to generate electricity. A score of lawmakers had urged EPA to delay applying new rules aimed at curbing GHGs from large emitters and facilities that burn biomass including power plants and paper mills. Those rules took effect on Jan. 2. EPA said it was deferring permitting requirements in order to gather and examine more scientific analysis. Industry and biomass proponents argue that burning biomass products, such as scrap lumber or agricultural waste is essentially "carbon neutral" because the carbons released during burning are offset by those absorbed while the trees and plants are alive. Moreover, the woody and agricultural scraps, if not burned, would decay and emit methane, a far more potent GHG than carbon dioxide. They also fear that power plants would revert to burning fossil fuels if the regulations become too costly. Environmental groups dispute carbon neutrality and fear that more lax rules would encourage the harvesting of forests for power. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement that "We are working to find a way forward that is scientifically sound and manageable for both producers and consumers of biomass energy."...Read More »



Republic Services to Build a 1 MW Solar Plant atop a Georgia Landfill

Republic Services (Phoenix, AZ) plans to construct a 1 megawatt solar farm atop a landfill site in Atlanta, GA. The company will mount a new kind of solar panel array designed by solar landfill closure systems provider Carlisle Energy Services on its 48-acre Hickory Ridge landfill in DeKalb County. The solar plant will be able to produce enough energy to power 200,000 households when completed this year, Republic first demonstrated the technology last year at a smaller site in San Antonio, TX. Ultimately, the company wants solar caps become a legitimate and compelling alternative to closing landfills using traditional methods that employ layers of dirt and vegetation. A $2 million federal subsidy awarded after a competitive bid by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) last year is helping to finance the project...Read More »



Hazardous Landfill Study Says Levels of PCBs Too Low to Harm Residents

The US EPA conceded this week that a study conducted by Waste Management of its Kettleman Hills Landfill, the largest hazardous waste site in the west, showed that its level of cancer-causing chemicals was too low to harm the health of a nearby community where a high number of babies have been born with serious birth defects. The company said its study, designed and overseen by the EPA, showed instead that the level of PCBs surrounding the landfill in Central California was similar to contamination found in rural areas across the country, even in the remote wilderness. Local families denounced the study, saying it would provide no comfort to the parents of infants who had died from heart murmurs and Down syndrome. EPA officials said the study was only one piece of information that the agency was considering before making a decision about an application for the landfill's expansion...Read More »



ReEnergy Completes Acquisition of Connecticut Tire-to-Energy Facility

ReEnergy Holdings LLC (Latham NY) said it completed its acquisition of the 31-megawatt Exeter Tire-to-Energy Facility located in Sterling CT announced in November. The facility which will henceforth be called the Sterling Energy Facility was previously owned by CMS Enterprises (Jackson MI) which built the plant in 1991 and has operated it continuously since then. "Our acquisition of and subsequent investment in the Exeter Facility is consistent with ReEnergy's strategy of acquiring select energy assets that convert biomass and waste fuels into renewable energy," said Larry Richardson, CEO of ReEnergy Holdings...Read More »



Fortistar Begins Building Landfill Gas-to-Energy Plant in Taunton MA

Fortistar LLC (White Plains, NY) said it has begun constructing a second landfill-gas-to-energy facility at the Taunton landfill in Taunton, MA. The new project, called Taunton Energy LLC doubles the size of the existing project to a total output to 3.8 MW of renewable energy, enough to power about 4,500 residential homes. It will employ two Caterpillar 3516 engines to generate the additional 1.9 MW of power. The power is sold to Taunton Municipal Light Plant (TMLP) which serves 35,000 customers in Taunton and surrounding communities. "Decisions we make regarding our energy portfolio have to make sense from both an environmental and economic basis," said TMLP General Manager Michael Horrigan. "This long-term resource, which has been a component of our portfolio since 1997, is cost effective, 'Green', and adds stability and diversity to our energy supply; it's a win for everyone."...Read More »



Old Massachusetts Landfill to House 4.2 MW Solar Array

Western Massachusetts Electric Co. (WMECo) announced plans to develop a $22 million 4.2 megawatt large-scale solar energy facility consisting of 17,000 solar panels atop a capped landfill in Springfield, MA. WMECo said the project is expected to contribute several hundred thousand dollars of annual property tax revenue to the city of Springfield which is home to some 65,000 WMECo customers. "Our use of a capped landfill creates a new and viable use for an otherwise challenged property within our home city," said Peter J. Clarke, president and chief operating officer at WME Co. The company hopes to begin construction during the second quarter of this year...Read More »



Republic Services to Report Fourth Quarter and Year Results on Feb. 10

Republic Services, Inc. (Phoenix, AZ) plans to announce fourth quarter and full year financial results during a conference call it will host on Thursday, February 10 at 5 pm (ET)...Read More »



Landfill Gas Will Power Water Treatment Plant in Midland MI

Construction of a $13.8 million 3.2 megawatt landfill gas-to-energy plant in Midland, MI is nearly complete and will be ready to begin operating next month. The Midland Gas-to-Energy plant is located next to the city's wastewater treatment plant which will draw gas from the Midland's nearby landfill to generate electricity that will be sold to Consumers Energy at an undisclosed price. Some of the power along with excess heat from the project's two 1.6 megawatt Caterpillar generators will be used to heat the wastewater treatment ponds and buildings. The project received $4 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding and a $6 million 2.5% interest 20-year loan...Read More »



Minneapolis Firm to Build Large Electronics Processing Facility in Philly

MPC (Minneapolis, MN), an e-waste disposition and recycling company, plans to open an 111,000 square-foot processing facility in Philadelphia, PA. The plant, which is expected to open in the first quarter of 2011, is expected to process15 million pounds of electronics materials in its first year. The state of Pennsylvania is providing $230,000 in funding assistance through the Department of Community and Economic Development that includes an opportunity grant, job training assistance and job creation tax credits. David Kutoff, President and CEO of MPC, emphasizes that the new facility is a full technology and electronics processing center, not just simply a transfer station to process IT assets elsewhere. "We are pleased to expand our services and capabilities to help our East Coast clients, promote environmental stewardship, and keep their electronics materials out of landfills," Kutoff said...Read More »



Avalon Holdings CEO Resigns Abruptly

Avalon Holdings Corp. (Warren, OH) said that Steven M. Berry, the company's CEO and a director, was resigning effective Feb. 15. Company chairman and former CEO Ronald E. Klingle will replace him on that date. Mr. Berry stated, "I am resigning to pursue other career opportunities and want to thank Ron for the opportunities provided me and wish Avalon continued success." Berry, who was appointed only last March, is a 25-year veteran of the waste industry, having served as an Area Vice President for Waste Management, Inc. in charge of a nearly a $1 billion business unit covering the mid-Atlantic region. Avalon provides waste management services in select northeastern and Midwestern markets...Read More »


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