Weekly News Bulletin: Mar. 1-7, 2011


EPA Final Toxics Rule for Boilers Fails to Appease Industry

As mandated by court-appointed deadline, the EPA released its final standards targeting toxic emissions from industrial boilers and incinerators. The agency says that its final package of rules will cut compliance costs by half ($1.8 billion compared to the proposed rules) but still save thousands of lives and significantly improve public health. Among the changes EPA made to the boiler rule is granting industry's request for "sub-categorization" creating differing emission limits for some types of boilers. But the agency is not granting, nor reconsidering, its decision not to grant industry's request for a controversial health-based standard that could exempt some units from the rule.

Environmental groups are likely to respond to the 11th-hour changes in the final boiler maximum achievable control technology (MACT) air toxics rule released Feb. 23. The rule is one of several released as part of a broad suite of regulations addressing combustion sources that also includes a new source performance standard (NSPS) to cut criteria pollutants from sewage sludge incinerators, and a rule that defines solid waste to determine whether sources are subject to boiler rules or more-stringent incinerator rules. Industry has been arguing that the proposed MACT for "major" industrial, commercial, and institutional boilers and process heaters are unachievable and will lead to tens of thousands of job losses at a time when the economy can least afford it. Industry groups submitted new data on boiler emissions and met with EPA and White House officials numerous times to argue their case for more lenient rules...Read More »



Virginia's SPSA Considers Sale of Regional Landfill in Suffolk

Virginia's troubled Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA), a consortium of eight municipalities in that part of the state, is said to be exploring the sale of its regional landfill, according to an article in The Virginian-Pilot. "We're moving to a major strategic decision: Do we sell the landfill?" said Tim Oksman, city attorney for Portsmouth and a SPSA board member. The possible sale of the landfill would help remedy the agency's ongoing debt and management crisis, which peaked two years ago when the agency nearly went bankrupt having revealed that it was buried in $240 million worth of debt and faced a budget shortfall of $16 million. It has since instituted reforms, cut expenses and tried to streamline its operations. Last year, SPSA sold its waste-to-energy plant in Portsmouth to Wheelabrator Technologies, a division of Waste Management, for $150 million. Today, the landfill is receiving just 10 percent of the volume taken in four years ago, with most waste going to the Portsmouth plant and the result of the economic downturn. Meanwhile, SPSA is pressing ahead with a planned $52 million landfill expansion that if approved, would make the landfill more attractive to prospective buyers...Read More »



Casella 3Q Loss Widens from Harsh Winter and Divestitures

Casella Waste Systems (Rutland, VT) reported a wider fiscal third quarter loss resulting from an unusually harsh winter and one-time divestiture costs incurred selling the Cape Cod Operations. Landfill volumes were 4.4 percent lower as a result of the January weather and because some sites reached annual permit limits in early December. Nevertheless, revenue for the quarter actually increased 1.6 percent to $111.6 million, up $1.7 million from last year, driven mainly by solid waste volume growth and higher commodity prices. The company also completed the sale of recycling assets for $130.4 million, which was disclosed in January when the company also announced plans to refinance its senior subordinated notes due in 2013. The company's net loss applicable to common shareholders was ($6.4) million, or ($0.24) per common share for the quarter, compared to ($4.4) million, or ($0.17) per share for the same quarter last year. "Since last quarter our team has done an excellent job completing important long-term strategic goals aimed at improving our balance sheet today and better positioning us for the future," said chairman and CEO John W. Casella...Read More »



Waste-to-Chemical Developer Genomatica Raises $45 Million

Less than a month after announcing a joint development agreement with Waste Management, Genomatica Inc. (San Diego, CA), a developer of sustainable chemical technology, said it raised $45 million in capital from Waste Management and various investor groups. The funding was led by VantagePoint Venture Partners; Bright Capital, a Russian venture investment firm; and Waste Management. Prior investors Alloy Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Mohr Davidow Ventures and TPG Biotech, who raised $15 million a year ago, also participated this time around. Genomatica said it plans to use the money to complete a demonstration project by late 2013 to prove its green chemistry technology can work on a commercial-scale. The company has developed a process by which it can convert synthesis gas (syngas) into a variety of useful chemical products that would otherwise require petroleum or its derivatives. The syngas will come from Waste Management through its use of various waste conversion processes including anaerobic digestion, gasification and landfill gas...Read More »



WCA Waste Completes Acquisition from Emerald Waste

WCA Waste Corp. (Houston, TX) has completed its previously announced acquisition of a transfer station and three hauling operations in central Florida from Emerald Waste Services LLC. The operations consist of 117 residential, commercial and roll-off routes servicing seven counties and 113,500 customers in the Gainesville, Orange City and Daytona Beach market areas. The businesses collectively generate annual revenue of about $30 million and employ 220 people who will be moving to WCA Waste. The company said it is also exploring further growth opportunities in the central Florida market. The deal announced in December was to include a pair of landfills in Mississippi, called MacLand 1 and 2, which are to be considered separately. They would have contributed an additional $7 million in annual revenue. "We are excited about the acquisition and the opportunities for growth in these market areas. We remain focused on growing WCA by acquiring tuck-in operations in our existing markets, and acquiring companies in new markets. We are actively pursuing other acquisition candidates and hope to announce additional transactions in the near future," CEO Tom J. Fatjo Jr. said. Emerald Waste, which serves 145,000 customers in the Gulf Coast and Central Florida region, is a portfolio company of Chicago- based private equity firm WHI Capital Partners...Read More »



EPA Coal Ash Study is Grist for Industry and Environmentalists

Industry groups and environmentalists are citing EPA assessments of 69 coal ash impoundments to support their divergent positions on whether the agency should regulate coal combustion residuals as hazardous under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA). Industry says EPA's not finding any of the facilities to be unsatisfactory by agency standards bolsters the case against EPA pursuing "hazardous" waste rules for coal ash disposal. Conversely, environmentalists argue that a lack of complete and up-to-date documentation at 35 of the facilities, a factor that caused EPA to rate the impoundments' safety as "poor," indicates that states are ill-equipped to regulate them safely. EPA released its assessment reports of the 69 impoundments at 20 facilities on Feb. 11 along with "action plans" which outline safety steps to prevent spills from impoundments and other coal ash storage sites in order to avoid a repeat of the massive Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash spill in Kingston, TN, in Dec. 2008. None of the impoundments reviewed by EPA for their structural integrity received the agency's lowest possible rating of "unsatisfactory." However, 35 of the units were rated as "poor," but only because those "units lacked some of the necessary engineering documentation required," EPA says in a statement. EPA's Fall regulatory agenda, issued in December, describes the pending final rule as a "long-term action" with no proposed date for the agency to issue a final regulation...Read More »



Casella Acquires MSW Landfill in McKean County, PA

Casella Waste Systems (Rutland, VT) announced that it acquired a MSW landfill in McKean County, PA out of bankruptcy proceedings on February 24 for $500,000 in cash and the assumption of certain contractual obligations. The roughly 230 acre landfill is permitted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to accept 1,000 tons per day of MSW by truck and 5,000 tons per day by rail. While a rail siding is permitted at the site and the property abuts a railroad spur, the company has no immediate plans to build a rail siding. The site has over 33.5 million cubic yards of permitted airspace. The company estimates the net present value of assumed contractual obligations and closure and post closure liabilities at approximately $4.2 million. John W. Casella, chairman and CEO, said the landfill represents "a great strategic asset in our Western Region, and allows our team to better balance tonnages across our landfills to minimize transportation costs and maximize permit utilization." He said his management team knows the site well and is already working on sourcing new tonnage to the site...Read More »



Clean Harbors 4Q Earnings up 68 Percent on Cleanups and Acquisitions

As expected, Clean Harbors (Norwell, MA) turned in very strong fourth quarter and full year results boosted by participation in the Gulf of Mexico and Michigan oil spill clean ups, which increased revenue roughly $250 million. Moreover, Clean Harbor's acquisition of Eveready Inc. in July 2009 has helped diversify the firm's revenue, and has increased its mix of highly profitable exploration services. The company said its fourth-quarter net income surged 68 percent driven by growth in its environmental, energy and industrial business segments and even raised its 2011 forecast. CEO Alan S. McKim said that the company was operating its incinerators in excess of 93 percent and that "a sharp uptick in projects drove total landfill volumes up by more than 60 percent from the same period of 2009." Fourth quarter net income rose to $23.3 million, or $$0.88 per share, from $13.9 million, or $0.53 per share, a year ago. Revenue increased 20 percent to $417.1 million from $347 million in the fourth quarter of 2009. For the year, the company posted net income of $130.5 million, or $4.93 per share, up from $36.7 million, or $1.47 per share, a year ago. Revenue increased 61 percent to $1.73 billion from $1.07 billion. The company boosted its revenue estimate for 2011 to a range of $1.54 billion to $1.59 billion, up from its previous revenue guidance of $1.52 billion to $1.57 billion...Read More »



Waste Management Sells $400 Million in Senior Notes

Waste Management (Houston, TX) sold $400 million of its 4.6% senior notes due March 1, 2021 under a shelf registration previously filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Proceeds will be used to repay $147 million principal amount of 7.65% Senior notes that mature in March 2011, plus accrued and unpaid interest, and general corporate purposes. Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and RBS Securities Inc. acted as joint book-running managers of the offering.

The company ended 2010 with $8.7 billion in long-term debt, up from $8.1 billion in 2009. Consequently, the company incurred net interest expenses of $473 million in 2010 compared with $426 million in 2009. The increase was due to the issuance of an additional $600 million of senior notes in November 2009 to support acquisitions and investments made throughout 2010, considerably higher costs related to the execution and maintenance of the company's revolving credit facility (which was refinanced in June 2010) and a decrease in benefits to interest expense provided by active interest rate swaps...Read More »



Waste Management to Deploy as Many as 100 CNG Trucks in Vancouver Area

Waste Management announced that it has deployed 20 compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks in the Vancouver, BC area as part of a larger, long-term initiative to convert its entire area fleet, comprising 100 recycling and waste collection trucks, to CNG. The company says that the trucks emit virtually no particulate matter, produce 23 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and run quieter than traditional diesel trucks. Terasen Gas, now known as FortisBC, is partnering with the company to supply the fleet from a just completed state-of-the art CNG fueling station it constructed at Waste Management's site in nearby Coquitlam, BC. "This initiative is all about clean air for the Lower Mainland and Metro Vancouver," said Dean Kattler, vice president for Waste Management-BC and Pacific Northwest...Read More »



Heritage-Crystal Clean Posts 20% Gain in Q4 Revenue and Earnings

Heritage-Crystal Clean, Inc. (Elgin, IL), a provider of parts cleaning and special waste services, reported fourth quarter revenues and earnings that were up significantly in concert with same-store sales growth of nearly 20 percent over the year. Fourth quarter revenue rose to $36.0 million from $30.0 million last year. Earnings rose 14.2 million, or $0.07 per share, from 10.7 million, or $0.05 per share, in last year's fourth quarter. "We are quite pleased with our strong finish to fiscal 2010. Our top line sales growth of 20% for the latest quarter, and 14% for the full year, was possible due to the recovery in the service requirements of our customer base," said Joseph Chalhoub, President and CEO. He said that the company expects to finish its oil re-refinery in Indiana on or ahead of schedule and that the company spent about $12 million during the year on its construction...Read More »


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