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Articles from 2012 In October

EPA Temporarily Waives Clean Fuel Rule in New Jersey Due to Hurricane Sandy

EPA Temporarily Waives Clean Fuel Rule in New Jersey Due to Hurricane Sandy

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has waived temporarily federal clean diesel fuel requirements in New Jersey to allow for the use of home heating oil because of Hurricane Sandy.

The Washington-based EPA said in a news release it exercised its authority under the Clean Air Act to allow for the use in most generators and pumps in emergency service in New Jersey if ultra low-sulfur fuel is not available. The EPA granted the waiver in coordination with the Department of Energy (DOE).
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson determined that, as a result of Hurricane Sandy, there may be temporary shortages of diesel fuel compliant with federal regulations.  The federal waivers will help ensure an adequate supply of fuel for emergency response in New Jersey.


Granger Buys Two Michigan Waste Haulers

Granger Waste Services has acquired two other Michigan waste haulers.

The Lansing, Mich.-based Granger said in a news release that it added Mid-Michigan Rubbish and 5 Gs Disposal for an undisclosed amount. The transactions expand Granger’s service territory in Michigan farther to the east, south and north. Both companies will be incorporated into Granger.

Granger has had a long-standing relationship with Mid-Michigan Rubbish, based in Stockbridge, Mich. Mid-Michigan has about 5,000 residential, commercial and recycling customers, with stops in Stockbridge, Dansville, Pinckney and Webberville.

5 Gs Disposal, based in Vestaburg, Mich., has approximately 1,500 customers in Gratiot County. The current owner of 5 Gs, Joe Gostomski, will join Granger when the deal is completed.

Granger has added new drivers, customer service representatives and trucks to bolster service. Granger expects to service its new customers beginning Nov. 3.

 “We are excited to continue collecting tomorrow’s energy and expand our reach from Mount Pleasant to Leslie, Pinckney to Ionia, and all communities in between,” said Steven Reed, chief operating officer of Granger Waste Services.

Granger provides waste hauling, disposal, recycling and landfill gas-to-energy.


Waste Management’s Net Income Drops 21 Percent in Quarter

Waste Management’s Net Income Drops 21 Percent in Quarter

Waste Management Inc. net earnings plummeted in the third quarter, hurt by lower commodity prices and charges from an organizational restructuring, a labor dispute and from investments.

The Houston-based Waste Management reported that net income for the period ended Sept. 30 dropped 21.3 percent to $214 million, or 46 cents per diluted share, compared with $272 million, or 58 cents per diluted share, for the year-ago quarter.

Revenue slipped 1.7 percent to $3.46 billion compared with $3.52 billion for the 2011 period, according to a news release.

A decline in commodity price declines in the company’s recycling and waste-to-energy prices resulted in a revenue decrease of $176 million and a 10-cent reduction for earnings per share in the quarter.

Waste Management said net income would have totaled $285 million, down $10 million from 2011, if not for charges of $32 million for the restructuring and union dispute, and $39 million from impairments of investments.

The company said it is lowering its earnings guidance for the year because it expects an additional 7-cent reduction per share in earnings from what was previously predicted because of lower commodity pricing. Waste Management now is setting its guidance range at $2.08 to $2.13 per diluted share for the year.




US Ecology CEO Leaves Company

US Ecology Inc. said its CEO has left the company.

The Boise, Idaho-based US Ecology said James Baumgardner and the company agreed for him to leave the firm. The president, CEO and chief operating officer also agreed to resign from the company’s board of directors, US Ecology said in a news release.

The board appointed Jeffrey Feeler acting president and chief operating officer. Feeler formerly served as vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer.

“Our board appreciates Jim's past efforts and dedicated service to US Ecology and wishes him the best in his future endeavors," said board chairman Stephen Romano. Romano will assume an expanded role as chairman.

US Ecology provides radioactive, hazardous, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and non-hazardous industrial waste management and recycling services to commercial and government entities.



Delaware County Obstructs WM’s Landfill Height Increase Request

Advanced Disposal Buys Tennessee Waste Hauler

Advanced Disposal Services Inc. has bought a Tennessee waste hauler and landfill operator for an undisclosed amount.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based Advanced Disposal acquired Eco-Safe Systems LLC of Blountville, Tenn., which operates a municipal solid waste (MSW) and construction and demolition (C&D) landfill and provides disposal services for Kingsport, Tenn.  It is Advanced Disposal’s first foray into Tennessee, according to a news release.

Advanced Disposal had been managing disposal operations at the landfill since it opened in September. The company expects the landfill to accept about 800 tons per day of MSW from northeast North Carolina, southern Virginia and eastern Tennessee, including residential and commercial waste from Kingsport.

Advanced Disposal now operates 18 landfills.

Commingled Conversation: Bill Rumpke Jr.

Commingled Conversation: Bill Rumpke Jr.

Like most red-blooded Americans, Bill Rumpke Jr., chief operating officer of Cincinnati-based Rumpke Consolidated Companies Inc., loves his family, baseball and of course his iPhone. But do not be caught off guard and challenge him to a round of ping-pong, lest he use his uncanny ability to intuit your next shot and slam in your face.

To learn more about the inner workings of Rumpke’s Midwest empire, be sure to read our cover story beginning on pg. 34.

Waste Age: What is your pet peeve?

Rumpke: When people don’t take accountability for their actions.

Waste Age: What is your idea of the perfect day?

Rumpke: Spending a summer day with family.

Waste Age: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Rumpke: “Surround yourself with good people and get out of their way.”

Waste Age: What was the last book you read?

Rumpke: “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis.

Waste Age: What is your favorite movie?

Rumpke: “Remember the Titans.”

Waste Age: What is your favorite TV show?

Rumpke: “The Big Bang Theory.”

Waste Age: Beatles or Rolling Stones?

Rumpke: Beatles.

Waste Age: What is the strangest piece of trash you’ve ever come across?

Rumpke: While collecting a residential route in complete darkness, we came across a deer carcass lying on top of the cans.

Waste Age: What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?

Rumpke: My iPhone.

Waste Age: If you could invite three people — living or dead — to a dinner party, who would they be?

Rumpke: William F. Rumpke (my grandfather), Abraham Lincoln and Babe Ruth.

Waste Age: If you weren’t serving in your current role, what would you like to be?

Rumpke: General manager of a professional baseball team.

Waste Age: What is your favorite sports team?

Rumpke: The Cincinnati Reds.

Waste Age: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Rumpke: The power to read people’s minds.

Waste Age: What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?

Rumpke: Visited the Mayan Ruins in Belize.

Waste Age: What’s the one talent you have that not many people know about?


NIMBY Notes: Big Easy Pickings

NIMBY Notes: Big Easy Pickings

Last month we highlighted the case of waste services firm Recology, which won a contract renewal in Vacaville, Calif., despite not having the most affordable bid for the Vacaville municipal government. Recology’s warm relations with local residents and customers made their offer more appealing to elected officials, dollars and cents notwithstanding. This month brings us an example of how not to manipulate the political process, and what happens to firms that try to take a shortcut to winning the big vote.

Louisiana has a reputation for dirty politics, and the companies associated with River Birch Landfill —Deft LLC, B.L.U. Communications, N.C. General Contractors and Westside Construction Services Inc. —aren’t doing much to change that perception. A recent report from the New Orleans Times-Picayune has detailed how, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, then-Mayor Ray Nagin used his emergency powers to open a new landfill, dubbed “Chef Menteur,” to handle the resultant swell in debris removal needs. Nagin stood by the controversial landfill even as the local council member withdrew her support (community organizing in action!), and Chef Menteur began to eat into the tipping fees being collected by the operators of River Birch.

Nagin stuck to his guns, though, until a series of suspiciously timed campaign contributions from River Birch affiliates were donated to his cash-strapped campaign. Abruptly, and with no explanation, Nagin opposed the landfill he had created, and fought against the rezoning it would require to operate in the future. The reversal of position was so sudden and unexplained that the U.S. District Judge assigned to the case in the resultant lawsuit felt compelled to ask the city’s representative, “So what is the city’s position this morning? Can you tell me that now?” In the end, Chef Menteur remained closed, and is probably one of the few landfills in the country to have been open for all of six months.

The Chef Menteur saga was just one of several incidents that have been re-examined in recent weeks. In 2008, a proposed construction materials recycling facility received the support of four nearby neighborhood associations, as well as the unanimous approval of the local planning commission. The project, however, would have the effect of siphoning off some of the material that ordinarily made its way to River Birch’s landfills, among others. The local councilwoman opposed and eventually killed the project, and in a matter of weeks, eight firms linked to River Birch had contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the campaign accounts of the councilwoman and her son, who was running for state representative.

Similar tales abound: generous donations to a backer of an executive order that critics claim would have hindered a proposed landfill that would compete with River Birch; a $160 million contract awarded to River Birch for garbage collection from the Jefferson Parish President, also a recipient of River Birch’s largesse. The James Bond villain Goldfinger was fond of saying, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.” River Birch passed three a long time ago.

Cynical developers might be reading this and wondering if the River Birch way might not be more effective; after all, it sure delivered the desired results. The truth is though, that sooner or later, your past catches up to you. The Louisiana Board of Ethics has accused the landfill and its executives of setting up “strawman” companies to re-route more than $300,000 in campaign contributions to chosen candidates, in violation of legal contribution limits for corporations. Federal investigators have won a guilty plea on the charge of bribery from a state official, and prosecutors believe that the briber was one or both of River Birch’s co-owners. And that $160 million garbage collection contract? It has been invalidated, as a federal probe is being conducted into the Jefferson Parish administration at the time of its awarding. The Parish President, Henry Broussard, has already pleaded guilty to unrelated corruption charges. It seems only a matter of time before investigators close in on River Birch proper.

The landfill business can be dirty in more ways than one. But there’s no excuse for corruption, and trying to circumvent the political process is no substitute for approaching it fairly and honestly.

Covanta, Massachusetts City Agree on Waste-to-Energy Contract

Covanta Energy Corp. has agreed on a new contract with the city of Quincy, Mass., to use the city’s municipal solid waste (MSW) for Covanta’s waste-to-energy facility in Rochester, Mass.

Covanta SEMASS L.P., a subsidiary of the Morristown, N.J.-based Covanta, said in a news release the extension of the current contract will begin in July 2013 and run for 10 years with mutual extension options. It provides the potential for recycling service after the city’s current contract expires next year.

Quincy will continue to use the MSW transfer station in Braintree, Mass, operated by Covanta and currently being renovated.


Clean Harbors to Buy Safety-Kleen for $1.25 Billion

Clean Harbors to Buy Safety-Kleen for $1.25 Billion

Clean Harbors Inc. has agreed to buy used oil recycling firm Safety-Kleen Inc. for about $1.25 billion.

The Norwell, Mass.-based Clean Harbors said in a news release that Safety-Kleen, of Richardson, Texas, is the largest waste collector from the small quantity generator market and the largest refiner and recycler of used oil in North America.

Clean Harbors said the deal will allow the company to penetrate the small quantity generator market; broaden its capabilities into re-refining waste oil and expanded solvent recycling capabilities; increase waste volumes into its existing waste disposal network; and enhance its commitment to sustainability, among other factors.

The purchase of Safety-Kleen “aligns perfectly with our acquisition strategy of expanding our Environmental Services business in North America,” said Alan  McKim, chairman and CEO of Clean Harbors. “Adding Safety-Kleen’s re-refining and recycling capabilities to our current offerings will enhance the sustainability options available to our existing customers and significantly broaden the range of services we can offer customers of both companies.”

With more than 200 locations throughout North America, Safety-Kleen services commercial and industrial customers in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. It has approximately 4,200 employees and operates a fleet of more than 2,300 vehicles and 1,000 rail cars. In 2011 Safety-Kleen generated revenues of about $1.3 billion and managed hazardous and non-hazardous waste volumes equivalent to approximately 680,000 55-gallon drums.

Clean Harbors expects the transaction to be complete by the end of the year. The company purchased Safety-Kleen’s Chemical Services Division a decade ago.

Clean Harbors ranks No.3 on the Waste Age 100 with 2011 revenue of $1.88 billion.


From a Great Height (Part 1 of 2)

From a Great Height (Part 1 of 2)

Falls from waste trucks and from mobile equipment such as loaders and excavators are a significant problem in the waste and recycling industry. The injuries sustained in these falls result in millions of dollars worth of workers’ compensation claims being paid out each year. Some of these falls, particularly those from the top of a waste truck or off the back of a moving waste truck, have led to permanent paralysis or death of the worker involved. Even minor falls while climbing onto or off of a waste truck or piece of equipment that only result in a sprained ankle or twisted knee will still result in medical expenses being paid and an employee being unavailable to work for a period of time.

In order to reduce falls from vehicles and equipment it is important to look at the four situations where these falls are most likely to occur. These situations are: 1) Falls while climbing into or getting out of the cab of a truck or piece of equipment; 2) Falls of collection employees who are riding on the outside of a moving truck; 3) Falls from a roll-off truck or transfer trailer while tarping or adjusting the load; and 4) Falls from the top of a compaction truck while cleaning or performing maintenance. Often, in all four of these situations, the falls are a result of not following basic safety rules, inadequate supervision or employee complacency.

How to Enter a Garbage Truck

Waste truck drivers, helpers and mobile equipment operators climb in and out of the cabs of their trucks or equipment countless times a day. It seems like a simple task, but this is one of the leading causes of falls in the waste industry.

Many waste entities have sought to reduce these types of falls by purchasing low-entry trucks and by conducting three-point entry and exit training for their employees. The three-point method requires the employee to always have three points of contact (two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet) while entering or exiting a vehicle or piece of mobile equipment.

While three-point training is a good start, it must be followed up with supervision. The three-point method is often compromised by employees trying to enter or exit a vehicle or piece of equipment while carrying items in one of their hands such as paperwork, a phone/iPod or a coffee cup. Additionally, most employees tend to be more careful climbing into a truck or piece of equipment than they are when exiting it.

Supervisors need to identify and correct those employees who riskily exit the cab facing away from the truck or tend to come down one step and then jump to the ground. Some employees may not consider jumping to ground from the first or second step to be risky behavior because they have done it many times without consequence, but it only takes one wrong landing to break an ankle or blow out a knee.

Other factors that can lead to employees slipping while climbing into or getting out of a truck or piece of equipment include wearing improper footwear or a buildup of grease or debris on either the bottom of an employee’s shoe or on the steps of the vehicle or piece of equipment. Finally, a number of tragic accidents have occurred when helpers or other employees have attempted to climb into or out of the cab of a truck or piece of equipment while it was moving.

Again, safety rules enforced through adequate supervision are the best way to keep this type of risky behavior in check. Many employees don’t realize that a fall from a moving truck or piece of equipment can result in them being run over by that truck or piece of equipment.

The Dangers of Riding a Garbage Truck

Pure and simple, riding on the outside of any moving vehicle is a dangerous activity. Despite this fact, having collection workers riding on the back of waste trucks is a common necessity for many waste and recycling collection entities.

Typically, workers ride on the rear step of a rear-load waste truck. A rear step located behind the last set of tires that meets all other ANSI Z245.1 standards is the only place a worker should be riding on a moving truck. Several fatal accidents over the past few years have resulted from workers clinging to the sides or even the front of moving waste trucks.

Similarly, workers should never be riding on the rear step while the waste truck is backing. Violation of this basic safety rule is disturbingly common in the industry and has lead to numerous fatal injuries. Supervisors would be wise to make enforcement of this rule a top priority when it comes to protecting workers.

Even when workers are riding on an approved rear step and the waste truck is moving forward, the potential for serious injuries and death from falls still exists. The ANSI Z245.1 standard specifies that workers should only be riding on the rear step for short distances -- 0.2 mile or less -- and at slow speeds -- 10 miles per hour (MPH) or less. Violating this rule dramatically increases the likelihood of fall from a waste truck. The physics of trying to hang onto the truck when it takes a turn or hits a bump at 20 MPH versus 10 MPH mandate strict enforcement of this safety rule. Supervisors should also seek to correct employees who jump from the rear step while the truck is still in motion or who try to jump onto the rear step of a moving waste truck.

Even when all the safety rules are followed, falls can still occur, and a fall onto hard pavement at a speed of 10 MPH can lead to broken bones or worse. Workers losing their footing on the step, especially in rainy or snowy conditions, contributes to many falls. Fortunately, companies such as Safeguard Technology and SlipNOT Metal Safety Flooring have been developing products to improve the slip resistance of the rear riding step. Providing steps with adequate traction and making sure that employees are wearing proper footwear can help prevent slips and falls off of the rear step.

Next month in part two of this article, we will discuss falls from the top of a roll-off truck or transfer trailer while tarping or adjusting a load, as well as falls from the top of a compaction truck while cleaning or performing maintenance.

Bruce Hooker works for Seattle-based Mattei Insurance Services Inc.