- A contentious new disposal contract for the Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA) in Virginia just got more complicated. The Virginia Beach City Council has indicated it will not join the regional contract unless private haulers are allowed access to SPSA transfer stations.
- Under the proposed contract, RePower South would build a $100 million waste-to-energy facility, but private haulers would be excluded from SPSA transfer stations starting in 2018. Virginia Beach creates more than one-third of the region's trash and SPSA can't meet the contract's annual 350,000 minimum ton requirement without the city.
- City officials are concerned that an exclusion of commercial haulers could lead to a disruption in pick-up schedules or the construction of new private transfer stations that would face community opposition. The City Council plans to vote on a resolution requiring SPSA to accept commercial waste today. The SPSA board plans to vote on remaining issues needed to finalize the RePower contract on Friday.
This is just the latest in a series of a challenging developments for the proposed SPSA contract. The region's waste is currently handled by a Wheelabrator Technologies facility in Portsmouth, but the company lost out on the contract due to RePower's lower bid and had planned to formally challenge the agreement until last month. Wheelabrator submitted its own disposal offer to Portsmouth and could do the same for other municipalities, but a regional contract with RePower still seems more likely than individual contracts.
Some aren't convinced that RePower's proposal to separate out recyclables and press the remaining material into fuel pellets for power plants is actually viable. William Sorrentino, an engineer and one of Virginia Beach's representatives on the SPSA board, voted against the plan. According to the Virginian Pilot he wrote a letter to City Council last week saying that the project "has a low probability of getting financed and a low probability of actually working." If that happens, the waste would have go to a landfill in Suffolk—also an SPSA member—that will run out of capacity within the next 10 years.
Finalizing a trash deal will mean cost savings for all involved, and makes sense considering the waste disposal system already operates on a regional scale, but it may not happen unless the SPSA board is willing to make some concessions.