Waste collection remains one of the more dangerous professions and even more so in 2010 than in 2009, according to recent data released by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Although the number of fatalities among waste workers increased last year to 26 (or 29.8 deaths per 100,000 workers) from 19 (or 25.2 deaths per 100,000 workers) the year before, the general trend has been fewer deaths in more recent years, especially compared to 37 (or 40.7 deaths per 100,000 workers) as recently as 2006. The reason for the increase last year is still unclear but may be related to simply more economic activity and hence more waste hauling.
However, waste management continues to be much safer than the fishing, logging, farming and construction industries. But not always a lot safer as it is today. During 1992 to 1997 it accounted for over 1 percent of all occupational fatalities. An increasing number of accidents were caused by other motorists colliding with workers near trucks. The waste industry and its trade associations responded with programs to help companies better train their workers and increase public awareness, in part to help control skyrocketing insurance costs...Read More »
EPA is expanding its review of key rules to limit unnecessary regulatory burdens, as required by President Obama earlier this year, but industry groups and lawmakers argue that new rules are offsetting any economic gains. On Aug. 23 the agency released its "Final Plan for Periodic Retrospective Reviews of Existing Regulations" in response to Obama's Executive Order 13563, which called on agencies to find rules that should be "modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed" in order to reduce regulatory burdens. The EPA plan will focus on 35 rules, with 16 actions slated for 2011, while the agency will determine in the future if action is needed for the 19 additional rules undergoing review.
The plan expands the number of measures the agency will develop to reduce regulatory burdens, including streamlining leak detection requirements, revised drinking water and sewer overflow regulations, air quality requirements for grain elevators, streamlined pesticide reviews and clarified waste management rules for pharmaceuticals and other consumer products...Read More »
The US EPA has levied $1 million in penalties against Chemical Waste Management (CWM), a division of Waste Management (Houston, TX) for mismanagement of its hazardous waste landfill near Kettleman City, CA. For the last few years, local activists have blamed the landfill for a relatively high number of birth defects in the area. However, studies conducted by the company and supervised by EPA showed the levels of cancer-causing chemicals to be too low to pose any danger to workers or nearby communities. Federal regulators did however find fault with the laboratory equipment and procedures used by the company to test incoming waste samples. Consequently, the agency will require CWM to pay a $400,000 fine and spend an estimated $600,000 to replace its laboratory equipment, software and procedures. The company will also be required to use an outside lab for at least two years to verify that its hazardous wastes meet treatment standards prior to disposal.
"Significant shortcomings" at the company's lab hurt its ability to accurately analyze toxic waste that was being dumped in the landfill, said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA's Pacific Southwest regional administrator. But there is no evidence that the landfill poses a danger to workers or nearby communities, Blumenfeld said. "Nobody has been able to answer what has been causing the birth defects," Blumenfeld said...Read More »
Casella Waste Systems, Inc. (Rutland, VT) reported a wider fiscal first quarter loss absent the benefit of the previous year's divestitures, but improved pricing drove up revenue. Gains in solid-waste pricing and higher recycling-commodity prices drove top-line growth in the latest quarter, with collection revenue up 2.1%. For the quarter ended July 31, Casella posted a loss of $3.1 million, or 12 cents a share, compared with a prior-year loss of $2.9 million, or 11 cents a share. The latest quarter included a $1 million legal charge, while prior-year results included a $3.5 million divestiture gain. Revenue rose 4.3% to $127.2 million from $122 million a year ago. The company's operating margin edged down to 33% from 33.3% as operating costs climbed 4.8%. The company also reaffirmed its fiscal 2012 outlook, which calls for revenues between $475.0 million and $487.0 million. Chairman and CEO John W. Casella said the company is working to improve its profitability and break down internal cultural barriers that keep employees from adjusting prices when appropriate...Read More »
Veolia Environnement (Paris, France) said that difficulties in Italy and North Africa as well as problems with its Marine Services unit in the US led to a net loss for the half-year and a large (EUR 800 million) write-down of assets, despite a 4.4 percent growth in revenue. Consequently, the world's largest waste and water utility in terms of revenue will undertake a corporate overhaul that includes divestitures and a significant reduction in its geographic reach. The company also disclosed that accounting fraud at its US Marine Services unit, which offers offshore oil and gas and inland marine maintenance, amounted to EUR90 million which has led to a decision to exit that business. Veolia said it also plans to exit activities in Egypt and Morocco. "We will be smaller in one year time but we will be more profitable also," said Chief Executive Antoine Frerot. Veolia will also press ahead with cost-cutting efforts and will reorganize its senior leadership, reassigning environmental services Chief Denis Gasquet to lead a reorganization to improve operations...Read More »
Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX) is pursuing plans to build a single-stream recycling facility in Stowe Township, near Pittsburgh, PA. Pat DeSimone, the director of Collections Operations for western Pennsylvania for Waste Management expects the new facility will be about 40,000 square feet and cost between $10 and $15 million to build. He hopes it will be operational in late 2012 or early 2013. DeSimone said the facility will pursue a Silver rating under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program of the U.S. Green Building Council and expects it will be the first LEED-certified facility for Waste Management in the region. Waste Management operates a similar facility in the Philadelphia area...Read More »
Veolia Environnement North America (Chicago, IL) has begun operating a 4.8 megawatt landfill gas-to-energy (LFGTE) project at its Hickory Meadows Landfill in eastern Wisconsin. Veolia will sell the power generated by the facility, enough to power 2,800 homes, along with the associated renewable energy credits to Wisconsin Public Service (WPS). Landfill gas qualifies as a renewable resource under Wisconsin's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), and will help WPS meet its RPS requirements, while helping the state achieve its goal of supplying 10% of its retail energy needs from renewable resources by 2015. "We are proud to partner with our sister Veolia company on our first renewable energy facility in North America. This is a significant project for our company and we are excited to see the plant in operation," said Cyrille du Peloux, president and chief executive officer of Veolia Energy North America...Read More »
James D. Warner, CEO of the Lancaster County (PA) Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA) has been named international board president of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA). He will serve as board president for one year, overseeing the 7,800-member organization which advances the practice of environmentally and economically sound management of municipal solid waste. Warner has served as CEO of the LCSWMA, with its annual budget of $53 million and assets in excess of $203 million, for the past 16 years. He has led initiatives into renewable energy, monetizing carbon credits, and the construction of a $30 million transfer station complex...Read More »
Carlisle Energy Services, Inc. (Carlisle, PA) has completed installing an 8-acre solar landfill cover at the Madison County landfill in New York. Once it is interconnected and operational within a month, it will generate about 40,000 kW hours of power per year which is expected to offset nearly all of the power requirements of a recycling plant located on the site. The cost of the $850,000 project was offset by a $380,000 New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Grant. Other partners in the project included liner installer CETCO Contracting Services and electrical installer O'Connell Electric. Only two other landfills in the country, both privately owned by Republic Services in Texas and in Georgia, have affixed solar panels to the slopes of capped landfill cells...Read More »
Genomatica, Inc. (San Diego, CA), which makes chemicals from renewable and waste feedstocks, wants to raise as much as $100 million in an initial public offering. According to its filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, proceeds will be used for research and development, capital expenditures, joint ventures, working capital and other general corporate purposes. Genomatica has raised about $84 million from its current investors which include Waste Management, Mitsubishi, TPG, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Alloy Ventures. The company's technology reprograms E. coli bacteria to produce several chemicals using a range of feedstocks, not just corn like several key rivals. Morgan Stanley, J.P.Morgan, Jefferies, Piper Jaffray and Raymond James are underwriting the offering...Read More »
Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (Seal Beach, CA), which develops natural gas fueling stations, has secured an additional $150 million in funding from three Asian investments funds. Last month the company received a similar $150 million investment from natural gas developer Chesapeake Energy (Oklahoma City, OK). Clean Energy has plans to open 150 liquefied natural gas (LNG) stations at Pilot Flying J locations throughout the country. The latest monetary injections come from Springleaf Investments, Pte. Ltd., Lionfish Investments Pte. Ltd, and Greenwich Asset Holding Ltd, all based in Singapore. Under the deal the investors receive convertible debt, which carries an interest rate of 7.5% and is due in 2016. The debt is convertible to Clean Energy's common stock at $15 per share. Clean Energy was co-founded by legendary Texas oilman and corporate raider T. Boone Pickens as Pickens Fuel Corp in 1997 and reincorporated as Clean Energy four years later. It owns, operates or supplies about 224 natural gas fueling stations...Read More »
Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX) said it priced an underwritten public offering of $500 million aggregate principal amount of 2.60% senior notes due September 1, 2016 under an effective shelf registration statement previously filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Credit Suisse, J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo acted as joint book-running managers of the offering...Read More »