Daily Digest: Florence breaches coal ash landfill, new deals by WM and WCA
In the Daily Digest, the Waste Dive team rounds up insights and moments you may have missed.
Tropical Depression Florence continues to linger over the Carolinas and surrounding states, dumping historic levels of rain and causing widespread flooding. The storm has caused 23 reported deaths so far and left more than half a million people without power.
So far, many of the environmental concerns about waste sites appear to have been avoided, though that could change as flooding continues and damage is assessed. Here is where the situation currently stands:
- Part of a coal ash landfill owned by Duke Energy in Wilmington, North Carolina has been breached by heavy rainfall and begun leaking about 2,000 cubic yards of material. The company claims a surrounding ditch caught some of the material, but admitted that some had entered nearby Lake Sutton. The lake connects to the Cape Fear River. "We think it is very unlikely it made it to the river,” company spokesperson Paige Sheehan told The Washington Post. “We feel very confident that public health and the environment remain very well protected.”
- The EPA has now identified 41 sites — including Superfund locations and others with hazardous waste — in the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia that could potentially be affected by the storm. No incidents have been reported, though some sites could still be at risk for days due to higher-than-usual levels in rivers and other bodies of water. NBC has additional details on some of these locations.
- North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper claimed over the weekend none of the state's estimated 4,000 pig manure lagoons had been affected. Though Bloomberg reports that others have cast doubt on that, saying many farms could still be submerged entirely so it's hard to know whether some of the lagoons were potentially still underwater.
Meanwhile, curbside service remains suspended in cities such as Wilmington and many surrounding municipalities. Waste Industries, headquartered in Raleigh, is among multiple service providers that have also canceled service for today and are on standby for when it can resume.
IN OTHER NEWS
WCA announces Florida expansion — Press Release
Houston-based WCA Waste Corporation has acquired the commercial and roll-off solid waste operations of Sunshine Recycling Inc. in Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida. This deal covers two hauling operations that services an estimated 2,000 customers across more than 16 counties. Sunshine started up in 1999, and one of its co-founders owns AYD Waste in Austin, Texas. This deal follows WCA's recent merger with Global Waste Solutions in Houston and expansion into the Kentucky market this summer.
Waste Management buys Arizona hauler — Payson Roundup
Waste Management has acquired Waste Matters and taken over service in the small town of Payson, Arizona, effective Sept. 1. Customers will no longer have access to curbside recycling service, as they did with Waste Matters, but will still be able to drop off material at community containers. Patriot Disposal Inc., the parent company of Waste Matters, will continue to operate in neighboring Yavapai County.
Mississippi's capital city considers recycling cancellation — The Northside Sun & WJTV
Jackson's Department of Public Works has started hinting at the possibility it could end recycling due to mounting cost issues. The city currently spends an estimated $1.1 million per year to offer curbside service to approximately 52,000 residents via a contract with Waste Management. Though a lower-than-desired participation rate, and late payments from some, have the city wondering if it would be better off dropping the service entirely. Officials plan to explore their options around renegotiating the contract. This situation is relatively unique given that many service providers have often been the ones to initiate such conversations recently due to market conditions.
New Hampshire legislature overrides governor's veto of WTE subsidy — Press Release
Environmental groups decried the results of a special vote on Sept. 13 to override Gov. Chris Sununu's veto of energy subsidy bill (SB 365). The bill requires select electric companies "to purchase the net energy output of eligible biomass and waste-to-energy facilities" within their service areas. This includes six biomass facilities, as well as the Wheelabrator Concord facility. The override passed decisively in the Senate, but went through by a much tighter margin of 226-113 to meet a two-thirds majority requirement in the House. The Union Leader reports that one representative who wanted to sustain the veto accidentally pressed the wrong button and voted against it.
$3.4M Food2Energy project coming to New York in 2019 — Observer-Dispatch
The Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority is slated to open a new organics pre-processing facility in Utica early next year that will accept commercial and institutional material for as low as $20 per ton. Material will be turned into a slurry and sent to a new $27 million anaerobic digester at Oneida County’s Water Pollution Control Plant. Officials said this planned digester investment, as well as ongoing (albeit unsuccessful) talk of a statewide diversion mandate, inspired the pre-processing site. This slurry technique is continuing to gain traction around the country. Though some environmental groups remain skeptical of co-digesting material with sewage.
Recycle plastic boat sets sail in Kenya — Reuters
In honor of World Cleanup Day, an annual event which inspired millions of volunteers to hit beaches across the globe and collect litter over the weekend, a dhow made completely out of recycled plastic was launched off Kenya's Lamu island. The nine-meter vessel comprises an estimated 10 metric tons of material, including flip-flop sandals that make it particularly colorful. This boat will now set sail on a multi-month journey toward South Africa as part of an awareness campaign led by the FlipFlopi Project.
SEEN & HEARD
Hey #InternationalCoastalCleanup - what was the weird stuff you found today? Ours was brass knuckles. But then again it is #Boston #InternationalCoastalCleanup @OurOcean @UMBGreenPlanet @EnvSchool @UMassBoston pic.twitter.com/v1jszkEemm— Michael Tlusty (@TlustyM) September 15, 2018
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