Daily Digest: Florence's toxic consequences, new Chinese investment in South Carolina
In the Daily Digest, the Waste Dive team rounds up insights and moments you may have missed.
WAITING FOR FLORENCE
Hurricane Florence's environmental effects could be dire for the Southeast as the weekend approaches. Regardless of where it ultimately makes landfall, the Category 4 storm is expected to bring significant levels of rain to Virginia, down through the Carolinas and possibly even into Georgia. In addition to the potentially life-threatening consequences this could have for residents, the storm could also cause a serious waste problem.
- CNN reports the EPA is conducting vulnerability assessments at nine Superfund sites in North Carolina and South Carolina. The EPA told CNN that it is "closely monitoring the projected path" and preparing response plans throughout the region. Following the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria on similar sites in Texas and Puerto Rico last year this is a pressing concern.
- Bloomberg reports the hurricane could affect animal manure lagoons (prevalent due to the region's large livestock industry) as well as coal ash ponds (which contain heavy metals that could affect public health) throughout the region. Duke Energy and others have experienced structural failures at such sites during past storms. Our colleagues at Utility Dive have more on this and broader power outage concerns.
- Waste and recycling collection is also being canceled by numerous local governments and service providers. Preparing for such storms, and managing the accumulated waste and potential debris afterward, will be a huge undertaking. Waste Dive documented multiple instances of workers stepping up around such hurricanes last year. We welcome any news updates, photos or other stories you may have from Hurricane Florence in the days ahead at [email protected]
IN OTHER NEWS
Covanta signs new agreement with Long Beach, California through 2024 — Press Release
The Long Beach City Council recently approved an amended agreement for Covanta to continue operating the Southeast Resource Recovery Facility (SERRF) through at least June 2024. First opened in 1988, SERFF has capacity to process up to 1,380 tons per day and generate 36 MW of energy.
Covanta informed the city last year “that equipment in the facility had reached its operational end of life and would require replacements" and estimated the cost to do so would run around $13.7 million. The city then brought in HDR Engineering for an assessment, which agreed with Covanta and concluded that "equipment in the facility has reached a point beyond efficient operations and without proper repair or replacement, the equipment may fail.” Per the new terms, Long Beach will cover $8.7 million of those costs and Covanta will pay the remaining $5 million.
Last month Waste Dive reported on the shrinking footprint of WTE in California, following the closure of one in Commerce. Covanta now operates the state's remaining two facilities.
Another Chinese investment for U.S. plastic — Resource Recycling
Green Tech Solution, a subsidiary of Chinese firm Tianjin Sheng Xin Non-Financing Guarantee Co., recently announced plans to open a new $75 million recycling facility in Blacksburg, South Carolina. A press release from Gov. Henry McMaster's office said the company will “collect and process a variety of materials, including plastics, scrap metal, electronics and more," though further details are currently unclear. The project is expected to create 200 jobs when it opens in early 2019. This is the second Chinese company to invest in South Carolina recycling this year, following a March announcement from Ecomelida.
Public pushback on expanding Vermont's last landfill — VT Digger
Residents of northern Vermont and Canada gathered for a public meeting on Sept. 11 to discuss concerns around a proposed expansion of the Coventry landfill owned by Casella Waste Systems. The last landfill in Vermont is currently expected to reach capacity within four to five years without approval for a new 51-acre expansion. The state gave preliminary approval in May, but prolonged the timeline in August after asking for new groundwater testing.
The site's potential effects on Lake Memphremagog — a water supply for Quebec — via treated leachate discharge and other factors was a common talking point. A state official reported that one well near an unlined part of the site, created before Casella's time, was found to have 116 ppt of PFAS. The state's standard for drinking water is 20 ppt.
Ohio and Maryland latest to launch landfill solar projects — Cleveland.com & Capital Gazette
Placing solar panels atop capped landfills has become increasingly popular among companies or governments looking to generate new revenue sources, and is similarly appealing to some developers as capital costs continue to decline. Two more recently joined that growing list of such sites around the country. Each used a method of concrete blocks as the base for panels, rather than placing anchors that could pierce the landfill liners.
A $10 million project came online in Ohio's Cuyahoga County earlier this month at the closed Brooklyn landfill and is the first of its kind in the state. The 4 MW array comprises more than 35,500 panels and was built by local company IGS Solar over about 17 acres.
Maryland saw its fourth such facility open recently at a closed city landfill in Annapolis. The $30 million project from London company Building Energy includes 55,000 solar panels — one of the largest in the country — and will generate enough power for an estimated 2,500 homes.
SEEN & HEARD
ON THE AGENDA
- The Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco will feature an event called "More Feast, Less Footprint" with many of the top groups working on food waste. Hosted by ReFED, the Natural Resources Defense Council, World Wildlife Fund and the Pacific Coast Collaborative, the event is expected to include an announcement about "a new regional goal aimed at reducing wasted food by 2030." Invited speakers include the governor of Washington, mayors of Seattle and Vancouver, and director of CalRecycle. A livestream will be available on Twitter starting at 4 p.m. EDT.
Do you have other events or webinars that should be on our agenda this week? Email [email protected]
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