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Articles from 1997 In October

Meeting Air Quality Regs: How Much Will It Cost?

For many landfill operators, trying to comply with both the new federal and state methane gas regulations can be a little like being a deer caught in the headlights: Getting to the other side of the road seems like a good idea, but the oncoming headlights can be confusing, at the very least.

By now, every operator should be aware of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) new source performance standard (NSPS) under the Clean Air Act of March 12, 1996. In most cases, states have adopted the new federal regulations, but many of the timelines are different. To confuse matters further, most state environmental departments have made amendments to their respective air regulations pertaining to landfills.

The current challenge is not only complying with NSPS and state air regulation amendments, but also finding economically-feasible compliance solutions.

The first step, however, is understanding the new regulations, which are "fairly tricky," according to David Heitz, engineer-in-training for RUST Environment & Infrastructure Inc., Greenville, S.C. "There are some gray areas between state and federal emission guidelines," he says. "There have been some delays with many of the states. Some of the air bureaus were caught off guard, and it took them a little longer to get on line. This is the first major air regulation specifically addressing municipal solid waste landfills."

Indeed, across the country, state environmental regulatory agencies are scrambling to amend their respective air regulations, and as mentioned, many states are opting to adopt the full federal regulations as their own.

For example, Nebraska recently adopted the federal regulations. The majority of Nebraska landfills have submitted total design capacity reports to the state, and most of these facilities fall below the 10,000 mega gram (Mg) level and are exempt from further testing, notes Richard Webster, public information officer for the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality in Lincoln.

Ohio's new regulations are being submitted for public comment this fall. The new rules, if adopted, will affect approximately 30 of the 70 landfills in the state, according to Heidi Griesmer, spokesperson for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in Columbus. Landfills emitting more than 50 tons of methane annually will have to install collection systems, she explains. Officials project all affected landfills must be in compliance within the next two-and-a-half years.

Other landfills are taking a "wait-and-see" approach to the new state and federal regulations, delaying action until the states have caught up to EPA, reports Heitz. Instead, he advises against this course, suggesting that each facility abide by the timelines established by the federal rules if the state rules have not been implemented.

The new federal regulations require that all landfills that began construction, modification or reconstruction, or began accepting waste on or after May 30, 1991 are subject to NSPS, and that any facility equal to or greater than 2.5 million Mg (or cubic meters) in design capacity is required to obtain a Part 70 (Title V) operating permit.

Dollars And Sense The bottom line is that every active landfill is going to have to spend some money. How much money is an entirely different question with as many possible answers as there are landfills. On the positive side, the economic impact of the new regulations on landfills can be as inexpensive as submitting a required design capacity report to the EPA and state agency, or as lucrative as the revenues realized from a gas-to-energy conversion system. The majority of landfills are too big to be exempt from further testing, but are probably too small to take on the major capital investment of an active gas collection system.

Landfills that are between tier I (below 150Mg/yr) and tier II (greater than 150 Mg/yr) should resubmit their report using site-specific tier II default parameters, Heitz recommends. Tier I testing uses the conservative EPA default parameter of 4,000 parts per million, while tier II uses a much lower default parameter of 1,170 ppm - a 30 percent reduction.

According to Tom Kerr, EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program manager, the defaults used for the new regulations are conservative for the purpose of identifying larger methane-generating landfills and letting the smaller landfills test out through submission of tier II site-specific analysis.

"A lot of people don't realize how inexpensive a site-specific analysis is. When you consider spending $15,000 to conduct a test, compared to spending potentially millions of dollars in capital [on gas collection systems], it is worth the effort," Heitz says.

According to both Kerr and Heitz, the trend has been for larger landfills to resubmit site-specific tier II analysis back to EPA. Not many landfills are making the leap to methane collection systems voluntarily.

Heitz estimates the cost of installing a new gas collection system can range from $50,000 for utility flares to more than a $1 million for an active collection system. These costs do not include design fees, monitoring or repairs which can add thousands of more dollars to the price tag of complying with the new regulations.

A New Frontier The proposition of investing a million dollars into a new, active methane collection system can be ominous for any landfill operation. However, Kerr has observed that the new regulations have been a catalyst for many landfills.

"A lot of municipalities are seeing this as an asset, especially with the [potential] electricity deregulation," he says. "We're seeing folks who were skeptical of the new regulations at first now starting to see the regulations in a new light. It has given them a jumpstart to explore methane gas collection projects. They're working with other parties like local utilities, and we're starting to see these partnerships coalesce."

The Dane County Landfill in Madison, Wis., is an example of a municipality that didn't wait for the regulations to hit before constructing an active gas collection system.

According to Jerry Mandli, the county's solid waste director, the county chose to install an active gas collection system long before the new methane gas regulations were enforced. "By the time we had to file the initial NSPS requirements, we already had an active gas collection system in place," he says.

Dane County's new gas collection system is scheduled to go on line in October. Using two electrical generating sets, the landfill is turning methane into electricity and selling it back to the local utility.

The seven-million-cubic-yard facility is projected to generate $400,000 in electricity sales to Madison Gas and Electric per annum, and a buy-back rate of 2.4 cents per kilowatt has been set with the local utility.

Incidentally, this is not the first gas-to-electric conversion partnership Dane County has struck with Madison Gas and Electric. The county also has an electric-conversion system in place at its closed Verona landfill, which sells its electricity back to the utility for 2.6 cents per kilowatt.

The timing worked out well for Dane County. The regulations hit during the design phase of new gas collection system. No design modifications were needed to comply with the new regulation, although more time was required to comply with the air regulations. "We had to sort out the differences between the state and federal regulations," Mandli says.

A prime example of an active gas system coming to fruition as a direct result of the new methane regulations can be found at the J.C. Elliot Landfill in Corpus Christi, Texas. This municipally owned and operated landfill is in the process of constructing a gas-to-electric conversion system. A private contractor will perform the core drilling, extract the gas, convert it to electricity and sell it back to the local utility, Central and South West Corp., or to the city of Corpus Christi.

Plans for the project were initiated two years ago and were entirely motivated by the new methane regulations, according to West, who predicts the new system will be operational by the end of 1998.

The 400,000-tons-per-year, 21-acre landfill is expected to have a six-to-eight megawatt capacity. "The biggest obstacle has been the unwillingness of the local utility to purchase the electricity at anything other than the avoided cost," West says referring to Central and South West.

Central and South West, like most utilities in Texas, is an investment-based utility, and under state regulations must buy electricity generated by any source, he explains. However, it is only obligated to buy electricity at the avoided cost which, in the case of Corpus Christi, translates to two cents per kilowatt.

According to West, the landfill is in the midst of negotiations with the utility. "They [the utility] have a proposal out," he says. "We'd like to make it a win-win situation for all members."

Larry Jones, spokesperson for Central and South West Corp., Dallas, says his company has received 14 proposals in response to its request for proposals for up to 75 megawatts of electricity from renewable energy generators. RTC, Chicago, the independent contractor constructing the J.C. Elliot Landfill methane collection system, is one of the respondents.

All proposals are under consideration, and a decision is expected in December 1997 following final approval by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

The avoided cost index set by the state is based on the actual cost for a utility to generate electricity, Jones explains. Texas requires utilities to buy back all electricity generated by alternative sources, including landfills. He notes the avoided cost rate for electricity has decreased since the section of the Industrial Fuel Use Act prohibiting the building of any new natural fuel electric generator plant was repealed five years ago (natural gas being the cheapest fuel, electricity now is cheaper to generate).

"It's understandable that a utility will not want to pay any more than it has to for electricity, because that means its customers are going to have to pay higher prices," Jones says, adding that the avoided cost is the benchmark for purchasing off-system electricity.

If negotiations are not successful with Central and South West, arrangements have been made for the city of Corpus Christi to buy back the electricity from itself. The project will succeed with or without the support of the utility, West says.

With the implementation of the new methane regulations across the country, an increasing amount of active collections systems will be constructed.

Currently, there are 250 new methane gas collection projects in the planning stages, compared with the 150 existing landfill gas collection systems in place before the new regulations, notes Kerr. Given this, however, the total economic ramifications of the new regulations have yet to be realized fully.

Arch Allies: Gateway To Recycling

City crews service almost all of St. Louis' 380,000 residents. Trash is collected twice weekly, while yard waste is collected separately once a week during the growing months and once a month in winter. All of the yard waste collected is composted.

Over the years, the city's solid waste management system has evolved incrementally to combine a mix of efficient trash collection with new recycling initiatives.

In the 1970s, residents used the standard trash can for their solid waste, which then was collected manually and discarded by a three-person crew. Often, these cans turned over in the alleys, and curious cats and dogs investigating the contents were a common sight.

"We needed to find a more efficient and orderly way to pick up trash," says Nick Yung, the city's refuse commissioner. "In 1979, we started experimenting with automated collection and found a tremendous savings in the collection costs."

By 1982, the entire city had been converted to an automated, one-person collection system. All city residents with alley service were provided one- and one-half or three-cubic yard metal alley dumpsters shared by several buildings. More than 85 percent of the city's residents are serviced in this manner.

"Now, we pick up more than 1,300 households in just one route," Yung says.

For the remaining residents, 90-gallon roll carts are used with the same automated pick up system. "We saved almost $1 million a year in collection costs and personnel injuries by switching to the automated collection system," Yung recalls.

Public/Private Partnership The city of St. Louis has relied upon private contractors to manage its trash transfer stations and landfill operations for the past 11 years. Prior to that, waste was incinerated at a city-managed facility. Most recently, Waste Management of St. Louis was awarded the contract to landfill the city's waste and compost its yard waste. In fiscal year 1996-97, the city collected 179,000 tons of refuse from the 186,000 St. Louis households.

In addition to its relationship with Waste Management, the city also closely works with Operation Brightside, a non-profit public-private partnership dedicated to a cleaner, more attractive environment.

Operation Brightside, along with city agencies, coordinates Project Blitz, a city-wide clean up and beautification effort involving a network of more than 3,000 volunteers. Each spring, the volunteers arrange neighborhood cleaning and greening projects and city crews from Refuse, Parks and Forestry work on four consecutive Saturdays to pick up the extra waste. They are welcomed to their appointed rounds by 12 million yellow daffodils that bloom each spring in St. Louis, thanks to the organization's Project Flower.

"For 15 years, Operation Brightside has worked with the city, community groups and residents to improve St. Louis' neighborhoods," reports Mary Lou Green, the organization's executive director. "This team effort has fostered pride in our community as well as visible improvements. In fact, the Brightside program has been adapted by other cities including Louisville, Ky."

Operation Brightside took the lead in recycling in the early '80s. It opened the first multi-material, non-profit recycling center built entirely from donated labor and equipment. The centrally-located facility was open to the public for more than 10 years under Brightside's leadership and nearly paid for itself with revenue generated by the recyclables.

Unfortunately, with the downturn of the recycling market, the center closed briefly in 1996. As a result, the city hired a private contractor to manage the center along with Operation Brightside and reopened it to the public.

Drop-off Recycling City-sponsored recycling began in 1992 when Missouri banned motor oil, appliances, tires and auto batteries from the landfills.

These items now are gathered as part of the bulky waste collection offered to every area of the city once a month.

Yard waste, another item banned from the landfill, is collected in specially-marked alley containers or in roll-carts on Wednesdays for composting. The vegetative waste from city parks also is composted and then offered free-of- charge to the public at five compost distribution sites.

"Residents scoop up the compost as fast as we bring it out," says Gary Bess, forestry commissioner.

The first two drop-off locations for household recyclables began operating in 1993. Now, the city offers 25 drop-off sites in addition to the Operation Brightside center. At the smaller neighborhood sites, two bright blue recycling bins are placed at firehouses, libraries and parks which the public can use seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

One bin is for newspaper and the other co-mingles steel and aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles. Automated side-loaders pick up the newspaper in the morning, and the co-mingled container in the afternoon. The materials then are delivered to a private recycling company that sorts the commingled mix.

Recycling At The Curb? A curbside recycling pilot program, initiated in the city's central west end area in 1996, showed that 10 percent of the waste could be diverted. However, the city continues to struggle with how to offer this additional service without significantly draining its budget.

A cost-sharing curbside recycling program is one potential solution and will be tested in three areas of the city. In this pilot program, residents who sign up for curbside recycling services will pay $15 a year to a contractor and the city will pay the remainder, approximately $37 annually.

The city hopes the program will allow it to offer curbside recycling to every resident at a price it can afford. Drop-off recycling sites still will be provided for residents who will not pay for curbside service.

In addition to its pilot programs, the city is educating its public schools on the proper management of solid waste, yard waste and recycling. It also has received a grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to enhance education in the schools and to assist them with starting permanent paper recycling programs.

St. Louis also is looking forward to "Missouri Recycles Day" on November 15. Residents who fill out pledge cards to start recycling or to increase recycling will be eligible to win prizes made from recycled materials at a drawing held at the city of St. Louis/ Operation Brightside recycling center.

The Daily Dirt: Covering The Alternatives

Soil may be king of the daily landfill covers, but significant challengers to the throne have arrived. Alternative daily covers (ADC) are more than just soil proxies; they must be capable of meeting regulatory requirements, including controlling odors, preventing day-lighting of waste, reducing access to the wastes by vectors and controlling wind-blown litter. That's a tall order for these foams, tarps, degradable films and hard-shell covers that now are eroding soil's 40-year reign as the standard daily cover.

As the costs associated with opening new landfills mount, the value of airspace has increased as well, and the six inches of dirt which typically has been employed can equal thousands of dollars in lost revenue over the site's life.

While Federal regulations mandate daily covers, it often is the purview of individual states to determine which ADC is acceptable. In the past, state agencies have conducted studies to determine the operational characteristics of specific methods to establish regulations and guidelines.

Many materials that are by-products from waste diversion or other waste-handling activities, such as ground yard wastes, construction and demolition debris, auto fluff and other inert materials, may be used as ADCs. While the use of such material may count toward diversion goals, it's debatable whether this use actually can be construed as "recycling."

Recognizing ADCs as a burgeoning market, many companies have developed products to match the demand, but a particular method's performance still is dictated by the physical and economic characteristics of the environment in which it is used.

Topping Off With Tarps One of the simpler ADCs to use is a tarp, a fixed-size fabric or plastic product that is rolled or dragged out over the working face and secured by weighted objects, such as tires, chains or sandbags. The following morning, tarps are collected and stored for reuse; if handled properly, a tarp may last up to 24 months.

"The biggest concern of daily covers is that people must walk on the working face and drag these tarps around," notes Marlon Yarborough of Airspace Saver Daily Covers, Prairieville, La. "I've noticed a trend towards mechanical equipment [for deploying tarps] coming for years."

With mechanical deployment, a machine attaches to the front of either a bulldozer or compactor that rolls out large tarp panels.

Such a machine has "its own engine and hydraulic system and allows the operator to have full control," says Mike Slutz of Tarp-O-Matic Inc., Canton, Ohio.

In addition to promoting employee safety, these machines can increase time efficiency as well. For example, according to Slutz, a 128-foot tarp can be rolled out in less than a minute, and a 10,000-square foot landfill can be covered in 10 minutes mechanically.

Degradable Films

Degradable plastic films, new on the ADC front, are designed to be installed permanently over the working face. Various components help them degrade through either heat, ultra-violet light or a combination of both so as not to create leachate barriers. Their advantage is that they only have to be handled once and can be installed either by hand or machine.

"Since waste will go on top of the alternate daily cover at the end of the day, it must be able to break down so it doesn't create a hydraulic barrier that would inhibit the flow of leachate and methane freely throughout the cross section of the landfill," says Don Hildebrandt of EPI Environmental Projects Inc., Woodland, Calif.

Installation of thin films is similar to taping up a package: The material is extended either by machine or hand at the top or bottom of the landfill face and then rolled down to the opposite end. The edges are secured, and the next row is overlayed slightly on the first, and the process is repeated.

"Generally, a machine is required for two reasons: It expedites the process and it dispenses soil or other ballast across the film as it's being unrolled to keep the film in place," explains Jim Kynor of In-Line Plastics Co., Houston. "The film is a thin mil and needs to be wetted down in order to prevent blowing and also to ensure proper coverage and protection against migrating animals."

The machine is attached to the blade of a bulldozer or compactor and is controlled from the cab. The machine is designed to deploy the plastic film as the bulldozer moves across the face. A ballast dispensing system is used to deposit the ballast automatically along the edge of the film as it is laid out.

The non-water soluble film is usable in most weather conditions, but heavy rains can be problematic due to possible erosion of the windrows of soil or fractured material that is placed on top of the film, reports Hildebrandt.

The working face's size may be a factor in determining films' economic feasibility. "The ideal conditions [for films] would be on landfills with a working face of 1,000 feet or greater, which maximize efficiencies by allowing operators to use the machine," reports Kynor. "On a smaller working face, they would have to deploy it by hand. It's really the size of the working face which maximizes the effectiveness."

Spray On A third category of ADC products includes both soft- and hard-shelled covers that are applied with a sprayer. These products usually are delivered in dry-bulk, stored on-site in silos, then mixed with water and applied using a pump which either sprays the product through a hand-held or vehicle-mounted nozzle or through a vehicle-mounted spray manifold. Most manufacturers offer storage and spraying equipment designed to optimize distribution.

The characteristics of these covers vary: Some remain wet and fluffy like shaving cream, while others form a hard, durable shell. While all these covers can meet most of the environmental conditions present, from cold winter conditions in the North, to hot summers in the desert, heavy rainfall tends to be problematic for foam products, according to Tim Johnson of New Waste Concepts, Erie, Mich.

If you're expecting heavy rain, you might want to use a product that will get hard and not be affected by rain either during or after the application, Johnson advises. Once such products dry and solidify, if remoistened, they won't become to a liquid state, he notes.

"Heavy rain is our biggest challenge," reports Larry Hawes of Rusmar, West Chester, Pa. "If a heavy rain fall is forecast for the coverage time, you should err on the side of caution and not use [foam]."

With foams, once the material is worked the next morning, it crushes into a fine powder. "Picture stepping on shaving cream; [the foam] is absorbed into the waste," describes Hawes. "Foam is typically 96 percent air by volume so you're crushing a lot of air out of it. We've not had any instances of slippage or any problems with equipment or anything running over it after the fact."

Some manufacturers make different mixtures for different applications, such as daily cover, intermediate cover or erosion control. "The harder foams form a cover which are durable enough to last up to several months, adds Joe Missavage of Landfill Service Corp., Appalachia, N.Y.

Working The Alternatives As with any new program, it is important to conduct as much research as possible prior to committing to one type of ADC over another. Most manufacturers offer programs in which operators can test these products in actual day-to-day operations. "Test-driving" different ADC types allow operators to evaluate performance characteristics and to gain hands-on experience. Other suggestions when weighing one method against another include:

* Grill the manufacturer. How easy is this product to apply? What are the storage and handling requirements? Is field support available if there is a problem? What kinds of financing programs - such as rentals, leases and free use of applicator equipment in exchange for purchasing minimum quantities - are offered?

* Request a list of users and call for their insight into that particular method's strengths and weaknesses.

* Include local regulatory agencies in the evaluation process so that they can understand how the ADC is going to perform at a site under their jurisdiction. Striving for greater efficiency and cost savings in landfill operations demands that the smart operator consider ADCs. While the dollars-and-cents cost comparisons may be confusing among product claims, the savings in sellable airspace and dirt handling may make ADCs an alternative you can't afford not to cover.

RECYCLING: Siberian City Seeks MSW Advice In Tennessee

What does Chattanooga, Tenn., a mid-size southern city, have in common with Nizhnii Tagil, located in the Ural Mountains of southern Siberia?

They are Sister Cities and soon may use similar methods to process recyclables.

Since May 1992, the city of Chattanooga has operated a dual blue bag curbside recycling program serving 55,000 households. Collected materials are sent to the Orange Grove Recycling Center, a regional materials recovery facility (MRF) located in the city. The recycling center is unique among MRFs in that 110 mentally-retarded and developmentally-disabled adults comprise the bulk of the workforce, processing 1.2 million pounds of recyclables each month.

In fall 1996, four city officials from Nizhnii Tagil visited Chattanooga as delegates for the Sister Cities Program. While in the area, they toured the Orange Grove MRF and found it to be a viable model for their own on-the-drawing-board recycling strategy. As a result, Orange Grove Recycling Coordinator Michael Brewer and board member Richard Burke were invited to Nizhnii Tagil to share information for a comprehensive solid waste management plan for the city.

"Curbside recycling and a regional MRF were high on city officials priority list," says Brewer, who, along with Burke, was asked to provide the city with a feasibility study on these topics. "They also were interested in using mentally-retarded individuals as the MRF's primary workforce."

In many ways, Nizhnii Tagil bears a striking resemblance to the Chattanooga of yesteryear. Both cities have strong manufacturing backgrounds with steel as a historic industry. Not surprisingly, Nizhnii Tagil suffers from widespread water and air pollution, a flashback to Chattanooga's tale of environmental woe in the late 1970s when it was dubbed "the United States' most polluted mid-size city."

Currently, Nizhnii Tagil's methods of dealing with municipal solid waste (MSW) are both progressive and antiquated, an understandable by-product of the enormous socioeconomic and political changes dynamically shaping the former Soviet Union.

For example, within the city, no recycling program exists, and the 50,000 tons of solid waste produced monthly is left in open dumps. Interestingly, however, garbage collection is automated, using trucks typical of a fleet found in many U.S. cities. Also progressive are the vocational opportunities offered for mentally-retarded and mentally-ill citizens.

Originally, Nizhnii Tagil officials planned to purchase a solid waste compactor which would not have allowed for removal and sorting of the city's recyclable material.

Now, however, they have reconsidered and are awaiting Brewer and Burke's recommendation which will include:*MSW collection methods;

* recyclables processing and marketing avenues;

* a MRF design using mentally-retarded individuals; and

* a solid waste public education program.

As a means of creating a sustainable community, the new solid waste management strategy will use resources and Nizhnii Tagil citizens in all stages of development.

The Orange Grove Recycling Center is part of the Orange Grove Center, a not-for-profit organization established in 1953 as a school for mentally-retarded children. The recycling center serves as a vocational training site where adults with disabilities gain skills to give them a competitive edge for full-time employment.

management: How To Reduce UST Cleanup Costs

All underground storage tanks (USTs) are not created equal. The strict standards governing cleanup that are based mainly on worst-case scenarios serve as an expensive catch-all for sites scrambling to meet 1998's deadline for upgrading, replacing or closing existing systems.

However, doing a little homework on costs and new regulations before buying equipment or hiring a specialist could lessen the bite on your budget.

A survey from Environmental Information (EI), Minneapolis, reports that more than half of USTs have yet to be upgraded. But, as far as expense is concerned, procrastination might pay off for these delinquent sites as risk-based corrective action (RBCA) is implemented state-by-state.

"RBCA certainly has sent a message to the people responsible for these cleanups that if they wait, they may have the opportunity to benefit by a risk-based approach," notes EI's president, Cary Perket.

RBCA is based on the belief that some sites pose a lesser environmental risk and calls for a more individual cleanup approach. The remaining leaking UST cleanup market is worth $20 billion, a cost that quickly is being diluted as states adopt RBCA, according to EI. Currently, more than 20 states have begun this tiered-approach to developing site-specific cleanup standards that EI estimates could save about $7 billion in clean-up costs.

Chances are, your site could cash in on these savings. For example, officials in California estimate that the portion of UST sites eligible for risk-based closure will jump from 1 percent in 1994 to 60 percent by 1998.

However, expect difficulty in employing risk assessment, site characterization, soil boring and well installation services. "There is still a lot of work to do by the end of next year, and I don't believe that it's going to get done," Perket says.

So, what can you expect to pay to keep in compliance? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), actual costs will vary by factors such as site, downtime, labor, vendors and the proximity to the deadline. However, it estimates that replacing an existing three-tank facility with three new USTs and piping would "cost roughly between $80,000 and $100,000, assuming no cleanup is needed."

For such a replacement, expect two to three weeks of downtime.

If you choose to add spill, overfill and corrosion protection to an existing UST, the EPA gives the following approximate costs - including labor and a maximum of 24 hours downtime - based on a three-tank facility:

* $1,200 for three spill buckets;

* $1,500 for automatic shutoff (butterfly) devices;

* $5,000 for automatic overfill alarm;

* $300 for three ball float valves;

* $15,000 for interior lining; and

* $10,000 for impressed current system, including assessment.

Temporarily closing a UST will cost no more than the required monitoring. If you opt to close a UST permanently and decide to leave the tank in place, it must be empty of fuel, cleaned and then filled with an inert solid. Permanent closing costs fall between $5,000 and $11,000, according to the EPA.

Acquisitions American Disposal Services, Burr Ridge, Ill., has purchased the outstanding stock of the Fred B. Barbara Companies, reportedly one of Chicago's largest remaining independent solid waste service providers, for a total initial payment of more than $58 million.

Sweden-based Svedala Recycling Division, has acquired Lindemann Recycling Equipment Inc., Pineville, N.C.

Eastern Environmental Services Inc., Mt. Laurel, N.J., has acquired certain assets and real estate from Clean Ventures Inc. and PJ's Environmental Services to operate a transfer station, permitted to accept municipal solid wastes and construction and demolition wastes, in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Abbot Tachograph, Pine Bluff, Ark., has acquired the Automate Fleet Management System product line from TeamNet Inc., Dayton, Ohio.

landfills: Six Steps To Value Engineering

Diminishing budgets and increased demand for quality have made "value engineering (VE)" the buzz words integral to many solid waste projects' success.

An organized, systematic approach to strategically analyze a solid waste project, VE's goal is to maintain or improve functions and quality while reducing cost. Formal VE is governed by a proven, structured, systematic review process that identifies both required and unnecessary functions and then identifies alternative ways to perform the functions at a lower life-cycle cost while delivering needed value.

All participants can profit during the VE process, according to Cambridge, Mass.-based Camp Dresser and McKee (CDM). For example, the owner can benefit by receiving superior results with enhanced value at lower cost.

The project team can benefit by having the project validated by an independent third party, offering suggestions for improved value. And, the consultant can benefit by being associated with a successful project.

The key elements in CDM's VE process include pre-study preparation, a VE workshop and post-study VE procedures.

A VE workshop consists of an intensive work session which systematically analyzes a solid waste project for optimization of cost, energy, operation and maintenance. The six-phase workshop focuses on:

Orientation. The owner's representative briefs the VE team by reviewing all materials related to the project (pre-design reports, cost estimates, etc.)

Information. The design team briefs the VE team on previous construction projects at the site. This allows the VE team to learn more about the project's background. During this phase, the project's mission and functions being performed are identified.

Creative. The VE team identifies possible methods to provide the necessary functions at a lower cost to the owner or to improve the end product's value.

Judgment. The VE team evaluates the ideas generated in the creative phase, determining which ideas have the most merit for further development. Criteria used to select these ideas include inherent value, benefit and technical appropriateness, potential for the idea's acceptance by the owner and expected magnitude of potential cost savings or value added by the idea.

Development. The VE team expands each idea into a workable solution. The development consists of a description of the recommended design, life-cycle cost comparisons and an evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed recommendations.

Presentation. The VE team presents all findings and recommendations to the owner and project team. In addition to a formal oral presentation, the owner and design team representatives are presented with a document summarizing the VE team's findings and recommendations.

When choosing the independent third party to conduct a VE process, be sure that the third party is an expert in the project area. A VE consultant should be chosen carefully, meeting all criteria and demonstrating a superior knowledge in the project area.

For projects that do not have the benefit of a third-party VE study, many of the techniques described above can be applied to conduct an informal, internal analysis to ensure a project is cost effective and tested before outside use.

VE techniques can be applied at any stage of a project: planning, conceptual design, preliminary design, detailed design, bid documents, construction, or operations and maintenance.

These techniques will result in recommendations that add needed value; reduce initial, annual and total-life cycle costs; confirm design criteria and decisions; and achieve a quality project.

Acquisition San Francisco-based URS Corp. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Denver-based Woodward-Clyde Group Inc. The proposed combination reportedly will create the country's fifth largest engineering firm, with revenues of approximately $800 million and more than 6,000 employees. Terms of the agreement call for Woodward-Clyde stockholders to receive $100 million. The transaction is scheduled to close in November.

Alliance Hardy Instruments Inc., San Diego, and TransComp Systems Inc., Irvine, Calif., have formed a strategic alliance to offer product integration between Hardy's STRATEGY Computerized Collection System and TransComp's Tower 2000 software.

UPDATE: City Approaches 1997 Diversion Goal

CHICAGO - As of August 1997, 21.4 percent of waste collected by Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation is being diverted from landfills thanks to its Blue Bag recycling program. The city's goal is to divert 25 percent by the end of this year.

Blue Bag recycling currently is at high schools and elementary schools, city parks and most major CTA rapid transit stations citywide. Since the program's inception more than 20 months ago, approximately 200,000 tons of recyclables have been collected using blue bags.

However, as the year draws to a close, officials are targeting paper recycling in order to meet Chicago's diversion goal.

"We are extremely pleased by the enthusiastic acceptance of Blue Bag recycling, especially for yard waste," says Environment Commissioner Henry L. Henderson. "Almost all of the bagged grass clippings, leaves and weeds coming into our sorting plants now are in blue bags, and numbers for all of the other recyclables also are up.

"Now we'd like Chicagoans to make an extra effort to recycle paper goods."

Clean paper - such as newspapers and magazines, "junk" mail, packaging and cardboard - comprises more than 20 percent of all household garbage collected in the city. Because paper is easy to recycle and sell, the Department of Environment (DOE) has launched a special campaign to get more paper into blue bags.

To that end, the DOE is distributing 600,000 copies of a paper recycling brochure that includes a coupon good for three free large blue bags. Residents are asked to take the coupon to the service counter of their local Jewel/Osco to receive these bags. Coupons also are available from the department.

For more information, contact: Ken Davis or Mark Farina, City of Chicago, Department of Environment, 25th Floor, 30 North LaSalle St., Chicago, Ill. 60602-2575. (312) 744-7606. Fax: (312) 744-6451. Web site: www.ci.chi.il.us

Top 10 Maintenance Mistakes

* Making inaccurate specs of vehicle chassis and components. An estimated 60 percent of premature vehicle failures are the result of improper specifications. Work closely with the truck chassis, body and trailer original equipment manufacturers to acquire the right vehicle for the specific job. Also, since the purchase program sometimes involves trades, ensure your trade vehicles are in agreed-upon condition.

* Bargaining. Some managers still try to negotiate the lowest price when purchasing vehicles, despite the fact that these trucks' costs ultimately will be judged on the total cost per mile and not on the sticker price. The total cost per mile or "life-cycle costing" is comprised of the initial purchase price, fuel costs, maintenance costs and reale value. This concept also is true for replacement parts.

* Overlooking warranties. Managers sometimes forget about vital warranty problems. When a warranty is neglected, it can catch up to you, especially when the vehicles hit high mileage. A warranty program should be hammered out well in advance of the delivery and details must be explained thoroughly to all maintenance personnel.

If the supplier requires the failed parts, get them as quickly as possible without causing any additional damage during removal, storage or shipping. This ensures that the parts can be analyzed properly, allowing for corrective action and appropriate warranty reimbursement. Failure analysis will help obtain proper warranty reimbursement, and any significant findings should end up in your vehicle spec file.

* Failing to maintain thorough vehicle records. Vehicle records should be detailed enough to provide histories of the various components for each individual truck. It's also necessary to keep fuel records on each vehicle. Consider the records in terms of vehicle cost, repair frequency and mechanic performance.

* Neglecting theft reduction efforts. Theft reduction requires more than locking up flashlights, batteries, light bulbs and small, boat-size fire extinguishers. There's no sense in working hard to reduce expenses in some areas if your savings are "walking" out of the shop.

* Disregarding safety. Vehicle and in-shop safety are important responsibilities. Many shop safety practices are not only required by regulations, but also are considered by most fleet executives as economic necessities.

* Making uninformed replacement parts purchasing decisions. If you're considering purchasing something other than a new part, be certain you know the difference between used, rebuilt, remanufactured and repaired. Also, price out kits versus buying only the parts needed individually - you may be surprised in some cases. Watch out for counterfeit parts, know your supplier and be cautious of poor-quality rebuilds. Sometimes, rebuilds cost only 50 percent as much as new, but produce only 40 to 45 percent as much service in time or miles.

* Failing to keep up with new government regulations. Stay abreast of current and impending regulations through your company's compliance department.

* Using mismatched or shoddy tires. Tires generally run approximately 20 percent of total vehicle costs. Original specifications and retread use are important. Be certain to keep tires matched and maintain the correct air pressure.

* Being uninformed on fuel economy. This figure will depend on specs and professional driving.

As The Compost Turns

For composter Jim McNelly, the tried-and-true methods of commercial composting just weren't working. As the operator of a private facility in Minnesota in the early 1990s, McNelly wrestled with odor problems that resulted from being unable to keep his compost pile cool enough.

His temperature control system often was erratic and failed to trigger the air blower when the pile became too hot, causing the bacteria-eating microbes to die.

As he pondered how to spread those microbes more evenly, speeding the organic waste's decomposition, he dealt with smelly leachate oozing from sections of oxygen-deficient compost.

Although McNelly knew his problems were shared among other composters, he felt that the equipment and techniques he was using also were to blame. "I needed a composting system that met all of the operating and processing requirements," he says.

So, he asked himself "What would make my job easier?" To design the best system for his purposes, McNelly began researching the obstacles facing compost facility operators and then started engineering a system that could alleviate some, if not all, of those problems.

First, he focused on how to keep a delicate balance of air and water in the compost pile - a circumstance which is critical to proper decomposition and an uncontaminated end product. While housing the compost in an enclosed building and out of the rain was an option, McNelly dismissed that idea due to the collective threats of odor build-up and fire.

The fruits of his labor resulted in an in-vessel system where the feedstock - such as food and yard waste and sewage sludge - is mixed with a bulking agent like wood chips. The compost then is loaded into covered roll-off containers, ranging in size from 40- to 80-cubic yards.

To tame the ubiquitous odor and excess moisture, a blower pushes air through the container's top and bottom when a computerized temperature gauge signals that the mix is getting too hot. The air is processed through a biofilter, cleaned and then recycled back through the blower. After about two weeks, the compost is screened and dumped into another container to cure for 30 days.

"What used to take 90 to 120 days only takes one-half to one-third of the time," McNelly says. Not surprisingly, today, the in-vessel system has become mainstream, and similar systems are springing up at manufacturers all over.

Don't Tear Out Your Hair Not every composter who is frustrated with his equipment has the time and money to strike out on his own and design a unique system like McNelly. And, even McNelly's in-vessel system would not be a universal answer for all composters, especially those operators who are monitoring their costs and cannot afford the overhead.

For example, Scott Schaible, who, along with his wife Becky, runs Freedom Organic Soils, a dairy manure composting facility in Albany, N.Y., says purchasing an in-vessel system isn't financially feasible for their operation.

The Schaibles' livelihood depends solely on the fertilizer they produce for lawn and garden top soils, and therefore they, like all composters, must try to manufacture a high-quality product at the lowest cost.

Former owners of a landscaping business, the Schaibles know firsthand the components of marketable compost. Like McNelly, they had been frustrated with equipment that turned out shoddy compost. Often, the compost they bought was not mixed properly or was mixed with poor ingredients.

Thus, sensing the need for quality compost, the Schaibles gave up landscaping and entered the world of manure compost. "It was absolutely suicidal," says Scott Schaible. "No one in his right mind would choose to do what we did, but we couldn't find a soil that would work in landscaping."

However, they had their work cut out for them when setting up shop. Schaible reports spending months researching and shopping around with his particular enduser market in mind until he found a machine that would do the job for the right price.

"What we really wanted was something that could kill weed seed, which is deadly for landscapers," he says. "We needed a machine that would invert the soil."

Inverting the soil, he explains, moves the weed seed from the steamy center of a windrow to the cooler outside of the pile where it dies.

Eventually, the Schaibles purchased a small windrow turner from ATI Global/SCAT Engineering, Delhi, Iowa, which they claim gives virtually the same results as the in-vessel system.

Odor control was not an issue when selecting the equipment, Schaible reports, due to his company's location near several farms. This turner, which blends the compost with other ingredients in addition to turning and aerating it, "eliminated the need for a second machine and saved us at least $50,000," Schaible says, noting that the turner was able to solve all of his problems, except one - flies. "Well," he concedes, "no machine can do that."

At the time, the Schaibles had sought a machine that was relatively light and could be towed easily through the windrow. But, now more than a year after launching the company and watching their volume increase, they are finding themselves back on the purchasing merry-go-round as they research larger machines.

Machine Abuse And Misuse In discussing what works and what doesn't when it comes to equipping a composting facility, manufacturers and industry analysts agree that the type of machinery selected should depend mainly on how the feedstock will be processed and what the end product will be.

Most all grinders, mixers, screens, windrow turners and aeration systems, whoever the manufacturer may be, operate in much the same way, says Randy Monk, director of operations for The Composting Council, Alexandria, Va.

Factors that should be considered include the ingredients and the amount to be composted, how often it will be turned, the marketing plan and the environment in which the composting will be done, he says.

Of course, manufacturers counter, how well a machine performs and how long it lasts depends largely on the operator and the environment. Michael Hill of Scarab Manufacturing, White Deer, Texas, says manufacturers increasingly are taking it upon themselves to design machines that can withstand harsh weather and terrain as well as tougher feedstock.

Hill stresses that it's important for manufacturers to know what surface the machine will be used on and the type and quantity of feedstock. Potential customers must be prepared to give specifics. Armed with such information, the salesperson can steer customers to a machine that best fits their needs, he notes.

Problems occur, however, when operators try to cut costs and buy a smaller machine, then use it on a large windrow. Operators also have been known to use the machines on material that is too heavy or difficult to be processed. "I've seen people pulling chunks of concrete out [of the windrow]," Hill says. "Nothing will process that."

Don Brandon of Morbark Industries, Winn, Mich., says tub grinders occasionally will regurgitate materials into the air when the tub is half-full and operators erroneously try to feed in material that is too large.

Such manufacturer observations on composters' machinery misuse highlights a growing problem in the industry, reports Christine Colella of Green Mountain Technologies in Whitingham, Vt., who stresses that once composters have been sold a machine, manufacturers still need to educate them on its proper use.

Operators, especially those who are new to the industry, can find themselves in a smelly jam should they make a mistake in mixing and end up with an anaerobic compost pile. For operators using a containerized system where a lid can be put on the mix and the odor can be treated, this may not be such a big problem. But for someone with an open pile near a residential area, it could spell disaster. "Companies need to see that a little bit of handholding can go a long way," Colella says.

Composting Outside The Lines Many manufacturers currently are turning their focus to customer service when it comes to adapting machines to fit specific needs, Monk reports.

For example, Sonya Alexander, town manager of Wilmington, Vt., says she was hard pressed to come up with a way to dispose of her community's sludge. Uncertain as to how well it would work, she rented a containerized system.

"Since we're a resort area, we were most concerned about the odors that result from dewatering," she says.

While the system worked well in terms of odor control, there was no way she could dewater the sludge without going through a lengthy process. In response, the manufacturer created a container that she could use for both dewatering and composting.

Jeff Gage, the recycling services coordinator for Pierce County (Wash.) Land Recovery Facility, concurs that adaptability is an important consideration when selecting equipment and manufacturers. Gage's facility needed to adapt its windrow turner to toss the compost to the side onto a conveyer instead of behind itself so it could be watered while it was being turned.

"This was important to us in the way that the water helps the compost to remain fluffy and porous," he says. "And we couldn't water it inside the turner because we found that tends to gum things up."

To fill this need, he purchased a stack windrow turner, which slices the compost laterally and shifts it to the side. In addition to using win-drows, Gage also has had to use an in-vessel system, which he reports has saved a lot of space and the cost of constructing a new facility.

When it comes to manufacturers and customer service, the wish list is still unfulfilled for many composters. For example, while Gage admits his turner fits its purpose, he laments that manufacturers, in general, are reluctant "to provide enough of a complete package."

"The individual manufacturers don't work as a system and we, the customers, are left to pick and choose which equipment is right for us," Gage concludes. "Often we can't just get it all at one company and have to go to several before our system is complete."