compost: New Jersey Composting Plant Starts Cookin'

Although large-scale co-composting tucked nicely into Burlington County, N.J.'s solid waste plans, the county discovered it wasn't affordable. When construction bids were received in 1992 for a 220-ton-per-day (tpd) capacity facility, the approximately $86 million price tag turned out to be significantly higher than estimates.

Creativity being a prerequisite to solving solid waste problems like this, Burlington decided to review the option of working with a private sector partner. It formed a procurement team and hired Camp Dresser & McKee, Cambridge, Mass., as an engineering advisor.

Burlington's approach was to contract with a company to design, build and operate the facility. The county issued a request for qualifications, describing the co-composting project; project background; procurement process; county and private company responsibilities; minimum technical, business and financial criteria required; and the necessary format for qualifications statements.

Using this criteria ensured that the contractor had adequate operating experience in proven technologies; would assume minimum levels of responsibility and liability; and would handle cost overruns and any liquidated damage payments.

The results? A five-year, $36.8 million contract between the county and Wheelabrator Clean Water New Jersey Inc. to design and construct this 157,000-square-foot-plant, which co-composts de-watered sewage sludge, wood waste and organic waste.

The facility is capable of taking in 37 dry tons of sludge per day and processing 95,000 tons of organic waste materials per year. It consists of a receiving, processing and curing building; an odor control system; storage areas for amendment and finished compost; and an administration, maintenance and control building. The biosolids receiving, compost processing and compost curing areas are inside a building that is operated under negative air pressures to minimize odor and dust.

The selected horizontal agitated bin system inactivates pathogenic micro-organisms, prevents vector attraction, minimizes odor and automatically maintains required temperatures for specified lengths of times. Twenty-five bays have automated, timed aeration and agitation, which leads to high-quality, marketable end products.

Initially, Mount Laurel Municipal Utilities Authority, Bordentown Sewerage Authority and Riverside Sewage Authority delivered sludge to the facility. More will be phased in during the start-up, as the county continues to negotiate contracts.

The facility is a result of the county's comprehensive solid waste management plan that began in the 1980s and relies on source reduction, source separation, recycling, co-composting, land application and landfilling. All solid waste processing, treatment, storage and disposal facilities are located at one site - a 522-acre complex spanning Florence and Mansfield townships.

The co-composting facility was the county's response to the state's requirement to provide for biosolids processing. Currently, biosolids disposal is at the generator's discretion. While treatment plants with de-watering capability dispose biosolids at out-of-state landfills, others have discontinued using de-watering equipment and manage biosolids in liquid form. More transport biosolids to incinerators in Atlantic and Monmouth Counties.

By adopting this system, Burlington simultaneously has reduced facility cost, created an environmentally sound facility and transferred design and operating risks to the private sector. During the five-month performance testing period, which ends in September, the county offers a reduced tipping fee of $30 to sludge generators as it assesses the plant's operation. After September, the tipping fee will be $49 per ton.

Wheelabrator collects no operating fees during the trial period. It also has guaranteed the operating cost and facility's performance for the contract's operating term, and has assumed all risks associated with marketing the compost product, thus ensuring the project's financial stability.

Fiscal American Disposal Services Inc., Burr Ridge, Ill., has filed for a public offering of 4 million shares of its stock.

Waste Connections Inc., Roseville, Calif., has closed on a $60 million, three-year revolving credit facility with a group of banks led by BankBoston.Republic Services Inc., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., has increased its initial public offering from 51 million shares to 55 million shares of Class A common stock. The offering has been priced at $24 per share by the underwriters.

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