WHILE COMMON in Asia and Europe, the barging of trash is still something of an anomaly in the United States. Here, trash is frequently transported across state borders, but generally reaches its destination via land-based transport. However, Portsmouth, Va., is exploring a plan for solid waste from New York City to be barged to a proposed city port on the Elizabeth River.
According to a “Frequently Asked Questions” link on the city's Web site, the project is dependent in part on New York City awarding a trash-hauling contract to Covanta Energy, Fairfield, N.J. A decision by New York City could come later this year, according to published reports.
Before leaving New York City, the trash would be sealed inside 22-ton containers and loaded onto barges bound for a to-be-constructed wharf near the Norfolk Naval Ship Yard, according to Portsmouth's Web site. The containers would then be offloaded onto tractor-trailers and driven one mile to the existing waste-to-energy facility owned by the Southeastern Public Service Authority. Containers would be washed and barged back to New York for refilling. The city estimates that 2,500 tons of residential waste would make the trip each day.
Portsmouth would lease the port facility to Covanta. In return, the city says it expects between $1.00 and $1.25 per ton of waste, totaling $1 million annually. Covanta would also pay $500,000 a year in lieu of taxes.
Though the project timeline is still evolving and some permitting hurdles must still be cleared, Portsmouth officials currently estimate barging from New York could begin in early 2009.