A Federal Court in upstate New York has ruled that Oswego County's "flow control" law, mandating that all waste generated within the county be taken to a county owned facility is unconstitutionally vague. In its decision in "JWJ Industries Inc. v. Oswego County," the court took issue with the flow control law for authorizing and encouraging arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement and ruled that it was unconstitutional for vagueness as written. Jeffrey Holbrook, owner and operator of the JWJ Transfer Station in Oswego County challenged the law, which was originally approved in October 2008 and made effective July 1, 2009. JWJ saw its business decline by 25 percent after the law took effect.
The county justified the law on the grounds that it would help it meet its goal set by state legislature to develop a self-supporting waste system and to improve its recycling efforts on which it had spent $60 million over the last 25 years. The county was guided in passing the law by the April 2007 decision by the US Supreme Court (United Haulers Assn., Inc. v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Mgmt. Auth.) which ruled that certain flow control laws that designated government-owned and operated facilities in upstate New York were valid under the "dormant" Commerce Clause. The decision narrowed a 1994 Supreme Court decision (C&A Carbone, Inc. v. Town of Clarkstown, New York) in which a flow control law that designated a privately-owned facility was found to be unconstitutional. Following the Court's 1994 decision, several exceptions to the general prohibition against flow control had developed, and were a source of frequent litigation. Most notable among these was the Pike balancing test (as articulated in Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc.), that weighs the benefit of a regulation against any imposition on commerce...Read More »
An environmental group is threatening to sue two of the nation's largest rail companies under a novel legal theory that classifies diesel exhaust as hazardous waste. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sent letters to Union Pacific Corp. and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway contending that the rail yard operators are in violation of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act due to the high levels of particulate matter released by their diesel-based operations. The NRDC argues that minute particles in diesel air pollution, which include lead, cadmium, arsenic and other toxic elements, are solid waste. The letter goes on to say that NRDC will file a lawsuit within 90 days if measures are not taken to clean up hazardous diesel emissions in 16 California rail yards. If successful, such a suit could open the door for legal action against similar air pollution sources such as ports, airports or anywhere with a lot of diesel equipment, said David Pettit, a senior attorney with the council.
State and local air quality regulators have struggled to regulate train pollution. A federal appeals court last year struck down a lawsuit involving a local air regulator that wanted to reduce pollution from idling locomotives. The court determined the agency was overstepping its authority because only the federal government is authorized to regulate interstate commerce...Read More »
Florida's Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) and Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County's proposed 93-megawatt expansion of a waste-to-energy plant in West Palm Beach. The PSC unanimously approved allowing FPL to charge customers for the $56 million cost of building the electricity generating components of the plant, which will translate into about 71 cents per month for one year for a customer that uses about 1,200 kilowatt-hours of energy. The entire expansion is expected to cost $688 million and involves adding three mass-burn boilers capable of generating up to 93 megawatts of electricity. Construction began last month and is expected to be complete in late 2015, when FPL customers begin paying the higher rates...Read More »
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a license that allows EnergySolutions (Salt Lake City, UT) to import up to 1,000 tons of low-level radioactive waste from Germany for incineration in Oak Ridge, TN. The plan makes some environmental groups anxious and they worry that it may open the door to future, possibly more toxic imports. Don Safer, chairman of the Tennessee Environmental Council, told The Chattanooga Times Free Press that the Czech government turned away the waste and Utah did everything in its power to avoid receiving the ash left behind after incineration at Oak Ridge, forcing most of it to be shipped back to Germany. EnergySolutions says that it has an excellent record treating low-level radioactive waste, such as X-ray equipment, medical waste or contaminated clothing and mops from nuclear plants, for American businesses and the government at Oak Ridge since the facility opened more than 20 years ago. Tennessee, which is the only state that allows the commercial incineration of radioactive waste, already receives 75 percent of the nation's low-level radioactive waste, equal to about 41 million pounds per year, according to state records...Read More »
Casella Waste Systems (Rutland, VT) reported fourth quarter revenues that were down 2.8 percent over a year ago on lower volumes and recent divestitures. However, the divestiture in January of non-core recycling assets increased net income to $48.8 million, or $1.85 per share for the quarter, compared to a net loss of ($5.2) million, or ($0.20) per share for the same quarter last year. Revenue for the quarter fell to $109.5 million from $112.7 million a year ago. In January Casella sold 17 "non-integrated recycling assets" for $130.4 million to a new company, called ReCommunity Holdings LP, formed by investment firms Pegasus Capital Advisors LP and Intersection LLC.
CEO John Casella praised his management team for advancing the company along its strategic initiatives of further integrating its operations and for shoring up finances. However, he said the "extremely challenging weather across the Northeast" for the last six months hurt volumes, productivity and led to higher-than-expected operating costs, including that of processing more leachate at the landfills. Nevertheless, he said volumes in May exhibited a strong come back.
For the year, revenues rose by $8.5 million, or 1.9 percent, to $466.1 million from those of 2010. Net income for the year rose to $38.4 million, or $1.47 per common share from a net loss of ($13.9) million, or ($0.54) per share in fiscal year 2010. The company is estimating fiscal 2012 revenues of between $475 million and $487 million, representing growth of 1.9 percent to 4.4 percent...Read More »
Waste Control Specialists, which has developed a low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) disposal site in west Texas, has signed a contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority. It is the first disposal contract with a non-Texas waste generator. WCS, a division of Valhi, Inc., said it will complete construction later this year on their 1,338-acre concrete-reinforced facility which is specifically designed and licensed to accept LLRW. Last month, the Texas Legislature passed a bill allowing WCS to receive out-of-state LLRW. Before that, it was only allowed to accept waste from Texas and Vermont, the sole members of a peculiar compact that grew out of federal laws encouraging agreements among states to dispose of radioactive waste. There are only three other facilities in the country that can accept LLRW but only WCS's site in Andrews County Texas is licensed to dispose of Class A, B and C LLRW...Read More »
The Solid Waste Association of North America's (SWANA's) Applied Research Foundation has released a revised report called "The Long-Term Environmental Risks of Subtitle D Landfills". The report summarizes what is known about the actual long-term environmental risks associated with municipal solid waste landfills and introduces long-term care alternatives that can be used to manage and minimize these risks. "This is an excellent report that makes a significant contribution to the scientific literature on landfills," said SWANA Executive Director and CEO John Skinner. In light of its important and far-reaching conclusions, SWANA subjected the report to rigorous peer review by an independent panel of leading academicians and researchers in the field...Read More »
Perma-Fix Environmental Services, Inc. (Atlanta, GA) has signed an agreement to sell its Fort Lauderdale industrial waste facility for $5.5 Million. Dr. Louis F. Centofanti, Chairman and CEO said he expects to complete the deal in coming weeks and also plans to sell Perma-Fix of Orlando facility for about $2 million. The closing is subject to certain conditions. In January the company reclassified its remaining industrial services, now only 8 percent of revenue, as discontinued operations. Beginning in 2007, the company announced its intention to sell its industrial segment, representing 40 percent of revenue in 2006, in order to focus on the more lucrative nuclear waste services business. 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 »
Recycling giant RockTenn (Norcross, GA), which recently acquired Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., is opening a second recycling facility in the Seattle area. The new facility is designed to help accommodate growth in the Seattle market and "reinforces the company's commitment to growing its presence in the Northwest," according to a RockTenn news release. "As a national leader in recycling and waste diversion, RockTenn knows that this is good business, and we are pleased that we are able to support the city's zero waste and sustainability goals while providing additional jobs that support sustainability," said Scott Wells, the Northwest Area General Manager, Recycling and Waste Solutions for RockTenn. "It is essential that we participate in the education of the community on the importance of recycling and build strong partnerships with the city of Seattle and local businesses," he added. RockTenn operates 38 recycling facilities in the United States. The company also manufacturers corrugated board and consumer packaging...Read More »
GreenMan Technologies, Inc. (Lynnfield, MA) sold its Green Tech Products subsidiary, marking its exit from the rubber recycling business. Under terms of the agreement, the buyer Irish Knight Holdings is purchasing Green Tech Products' assets while assuming its liabilities and is to provide $150,000 of additional consideration in the form of a promissory note and inventory credits. Green Tech was known as Welch Products Inc. when GreenMan acquired it in October 2007. Welch, which made playground safety tiles and other recycled rubber products, had been one of GreenMan's major crumb rubber customers. However, in 2008 GreenMan sold its scrap tire processing operations in Iowa and Minnesota to Liberty Tire Services of Ohio LLC, essentially exiting the rubber recycling business with the exception on the Green Tech subsidiary. GreenMan remains as an alternative energy and renewable fuel company, whose subsidiary American Power Group Inc., markets a patented dual fuel conversion technology for diesel engines and diesel generators...Read More »
Republic Services, Inc. (Phoenix, AZ) plans to announce second quarter earnings during a company hosted conference call on Thursday, July 28 at 5 pm (EDT). The call will also be broadcast live over the internet...Read More »