Plant proposed to convert trash to fuel at old Berkeley Co. landfill

June 26, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A company that wants to sort and biologically treat garbage in Berkeley County to create a “solid refuse fuel” has applied for state certification.

Entsorga West Virginia LLC filed a “certificate of need” application with the West Virginia Public Service Commission on June 13, according to the state regulatory agency’s online case docket.

The company is proposing to build a $19 million resource recovery facility on 4 acres of the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority’s old landfill property off Grapevine Road, according to the application.

Entsorga told the PSC in its application that the company’s equity will be owned by Entsorgafin S.p.A, a Tortona, Italy-based joint-stock company; Apple Valley Waste Services, the Eastern Panhandle’s largest residential waste hauler; and Raleigh, N.C.-based Chemtex International.

No hazardous or infectious medical waste, incineration or combustion would be involved in the mechanical and biological treatment process, which the company said would also divert hundreds of tons of recyclable material from the landfill.

Air continuously drawn into the enclosed facility and “a slight negative pressure” would be maintained to avoid release of odor into areas around the facility, the company’s application said.

The company said that the municipal solid waste picked up on curbsides could be hauled to the Entsorga facility. There, it would be screened with a large rotary drum that would tear open trash bags to aerate the garbage, the application said.

Large pieces of plastic, paper and cardboard would be mechanically separated and set aside for the refining stage of the process, and the remaining waste, including organic materials, would go directly to a “bio-stabilization area,” the company said.

An air-circulation system would be used to cause rapid composting, and a combination of fresh and recirculated warm air would be used to reduce moisture in the waste, leaving a dry paper-like product, the application said.

Entsorga said their refinement process entails the use of rotary screens, air separators and magnetic/infared technology to further separate the material, removing any metals and PVC plastics that may remain.

The fuel product that remains is shredded into smaller pieces, which the company said could augment or replace traditional fuels, such as coal or petroleum coke, which are used at cement kilns.

The amount of material recycled via Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority’s programs could double from the current rate of about 4,500 tons annually if the county was asked by Entsorga to handle it, according to solid waste authority Chairman Clint Hogbin.

Additional containers would have to be purchased, and more contracts with buyers of the recyclable items would have to be established, but Hogbin said the county’s recycling programs could handle the additional tonnage.

Landfilling of the waste stream collected by Apple Waste Services could potentially decrease by 65 to 75 percent, according to James P. Phillips, general manager of Apple Valley Waste Services.

“If approved by the PSC, AVW has committed that the rates charged to residents for weekly curbside trash services will not increase due to the proposed facility,” Phillips said in an announcement two days after Entsorga filed its application with the PSC.

The Entsorga facility will also offer a monthly “free day” for any residential customer who chooses not to subscribe to Apple Valley Waste collection services, Phillips said.

Based on his observations of the PSC’s certification process, Hogbin said it could take as long as 18 months to two years for the agency to consider Entsorga’s proposed Class B facility if an outside party intervenes and objects to it.

A Class B facility is limited to operate within a 500-ton-per-day and 9,999-ton-per-month limit.

The North Mountain Sanitary Landfill, which is operated by Waste Management Inc. subsidiary LCS Services Inc., also is a Class B facility, according to Hogbin.

LCS Services formally asked the solid waste authority last week to reconsider the company’s application to amend its siting plan to allow the company to obtain Class A status. A Class A facility would handle between 10,000 and to 30,000 tons of waste per month, Hogbin said.

The solid waste authority, which amended its site plan to allow the possible Entsorga facility in November 2011, decided to postpone any decision on LCS Services’ request until a later date, Hogbin said.

Apple Valley hopes the PSC recognizes “the tremendous value of (the Entsorga) facility and its integral role in supporting the economic growth of the region while reducing our continued dependence on land filling,” Phillips said.

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