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Need to Know

Landfill Owner Wants to Pump Leachate Into River

After having polluted water from its River Road landfill treated for almost 30 years at the Sharon sewage treatment plant, Waste Management of Pennsylvania, Inc., thinks the leachate from its landfill that closed in 1986 may be safe enough to discharge untreated into the Shenango River.

The company has been working for two years with the state Department of Environmental Protection and federal Environmental Protection Agency and recently submitted its plan for a pilot program “to demonstrate equivalency between pumping and not pumping,” said Glenn Schultz, Waste Management’s senior project manager for the landfill. It occupies 371/2 acres of a 102-acre parcel in South Pymatuning Township and Hermitage.

Continue reading at SharonHerald.com

Need to Know

Trash Fire Ignites at Stamford Recycling Plant

A trash fire inside a recycling plant in Stamford is currently under investigation.

It happened at City Carting & Recycling on Taylor Reed Place on Monday.

Fire officials say material inside a large feeder to a compactor went up in flames, filling the building with thick smoke.

Continue reading at News12.com

California Adopts Four Laws to Develop Recycling, Composting, Waste Reduction

Governments Urged to Halve Food Waste and Loss by 2030

California has adopted four new laws addressing organics, recycling and waste diversion.

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law bills that called for addressing organic waste by developing compost and anaerobic digestion; providing a tax exemption on recycling equipment; and a ban on products containing plastic microbeads that can be rinsed down the drain, according to news releases from the Sacramento-based environmental group, Californians Against Waste.

AB 1045 requires state entities to work together for the development and deployment of composting. The law will cut down on red tape associated with compost production, according to the bill’s sponsor, Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks).

AB 876 requires local governments to plan for the building of sufficient composting and anaerobic digestion infrastructure to process for a 15-year period in their jurisdictions. Assembly Member Kevin McCarty, (D-Sacramento), authored the bill.

"California’s local governments have done a great job ensuring sufficient disposal capacity for their residents, but, as increasing amounts of discards are instead managed at recycling facilities, it is time that we apply the same forethought to planning for the infrastructure that will be necessary to handle this material," said Nick Lapis, legislative coordinator for Californians Against Waste.

The state’s Air Resources Board has set a goal of basically eliminating the disposal of organic waste by 2025.

AB 199 creates a sales-and-use tax exemption for businesses on purchases of equipment used for recycling and composting, as well as equipment that processes recycled materials. Businesses may apply for the exemption with the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA), which provides similar exemptions for sustainable energy and transportation purchases with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Assembly Member Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) authored the legislation.

Lastly, Gov. Brown signed a law banning personal care products containing plastic microbeads, such as toothpastes, soaps and shower gels that are designed to be rinsed down the drain.

AB 888 addresses the trillions of tiny fragments of plastic that has ended up in rivers, lakes and oceans, and are mistaken for food by fish and other wildlife, according to the group.

“AB 888 ensures that personal care products will be formulated with environmentally-safe alternatives,” said Assembly Member Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), who authored the bill.

It was sponsored by the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA), Californians Against Waste, The Story of Stuff Project, The 5 Gyres Institute and Clean Water Action.

A recent study by the San Francisco Estuary Institute found the San Francisco Bay has some of the highest concentrations of plastic pollution of any major U.S. body of water, and a recent University of California-Davis study found a quarter of fish at markets have ingested plastic or other man-made debris.

California’s aggressive recycling goal of 75 percent by 2020 has prompted steady activity. Most recently, Monterey County said it is building a new material recovery facility (MRF) that will process more than 30 tons per hour (TPH) of single-stream waste, 40 TPH of mixed waste and 40 TPH of construction and demolition (C&D) materials. The Monterey Regional Waste Management District (MRWMD) will open the multi-line operation in September 2016.

In September San Jose began a pilot food waste collection program in conjunction with recycling and waste hauler Garden City Sanitation (GCS). The pilot program will test two types of carts for residential food waste collection. One will be a newly designed split garbage cart, with a 48-gallon section for waste on one side and a 16-gallon section for food scraps on the other. The one-year pilot program is available to 6,500 San Jose households in the GCS service area. Participation is voluntary.

In addition to the new cart technology, GCS also is operating a new processing facility to add to the environmental benefit of the program. GCS President Louie Pellegrini designed and engineered the processing facility and food scrap collection method, called the Sustainable Alternative Feed Enterprises, or SAFE.

Still, a report in August claimed that California is nowhere near its trash reduction goal set in 2011. Since then, the report stated that California’s source-reduction, recycling and composting rates haven’t improved from 50 percent.

Why a Lawsuit Against Western Waste Got Tossed Out

“Can I be sued?” That’s a question lawyers often get. The easy answer is: of course. All it takes is some word processing. These days, attorneys don’t even need paper. Courts routinely encourage—even insist upon—electronic filing.

That said, it’s a big step from filing a lawsuit to winning and collecting money from the other side. Claims must be credible, viable and supported by admissible evidence. What follows is a case from Arkansas where the courts had little trouble telling certain property owners their case had no merit.

From 1976 to 1993 Western Waste Industries (Western) operated a municipal solid waste landfill located upstream from Gary Cross and other individuals who own several hundred acres south of Texarkana along Days Creek, which flows into the Sulphur River Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Farther upstream, Beazer East Inc. (Beazer) owned a wood treatment facility from 1931 to 1961. In 1980, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed the Beazer site on its "Superfund" national priorities list because contaminants had seeped into the soil and nearby groundwater.

Responding to concerns expressed by local citizens that pollutants from four upstream sources, including the Beazer and Western facilities, were adversely affecting fish and wildlife in the area, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) began a study of the WMA. The FWS collected samples of water, sediment and fish—upstream, downstream and on the Cross property. The study concluded with a 1993 report that uncovered toxins in the area.

Cross and other downstream property owners filed suit in state court alleging that Beazer and Western had allowed contaminants to migrate onto the plaintiffs’ property and that those contaminants damaged the watershed and interfered with their use and enjoyment of their property. They sought damages for nuisance, trespass, negligence and gross negligence.

The defendants filed motions for summary judgment arguing that the plaintiffs failed to prove causation or actual harm. Attached to the motions were expert-witness affidavits supporting the defendants’ contention that they did not cause any damage to the property owners. The affidavits noted that the 1993 FWS report revealed no contamination in any of the samples taken from the plaintiffs’ properties. Additionally, their expert testimony provided that there were other potential sources of contamination in the watershed and that the impact of any historic releases diminished to a negligible level far upstream from the plaintiffs’ property. Notably, the 1993 report, which the plaintiffs offered as the chief support for their claims, did not identify the sources of contaminants. After a hearing on the motions, the trial judge dismissed the lawsuit, finding no evidence of causation or damages. Undaunted, the property owners pressed forward with an appeal.

A three-judge panel of the Arkansas Court of Appeals began its review by considering whether the trial court was wrong in dismissing the appellants' nuisance claim. A nuisance exists where conduct by one landowner unreasonably interferes with the use and enjoyment of the lands of another. Nuisance can encompass a number of harms, including odor, noise, dangerous activity and contamination of surface water and groundwater. More than an unfounded fear of harm, a nuisance involves an intrusion that results in physical harm, which, under Arkansas law, must be proven to be “certain, substantial and beyond speculation and conjecture.”

Cross himself had testified at the hearing that four of the samples taken in the FWS study were from his property, and several of the property owners testified about sights and smells that they experienced on their property. Even so, what the plaintiffs called “proof” was rejected at trial and by the appellate panel. “Lacking evidence of causation, the ... nuisance claim necessarily fails ... and we need not consider whether the [property owners] presented evidence of damages on this claim,” the panel concluded.

“[The property owners] supplied no proof to controvert [the experts’ affidavits]. The [FWS] report only demonstrated that there was contamination in the watershed; it did not reach a conclusion regarding whether there was any contamination on the appellants' property or the source or sources of the contamination,” the opinion stated. “The testimony of Gary Cross merely established that the [property owners’] land was tested during the study. His testimony did not demonstrate that contamination was found at those testing sites. Finally, the testimony … regarding sights and smells that [the property owners] experienced on their property did not identify the source or sources of those sights and smells.”

The appeals court next addressed the trespass claim. Arkansas law requires a physical invasion of real property that results in damages. Here, the panel found no evidence that the companies did anything to physically invade the downstream properties. The affidavits attached to the companies' motions for summary judgment supported their assertion that nothing they did amounted to entering anyone’s property. Although Cross identified several of the FWS testing sites as being on his property, an expert for the defendants analyzed the report and found no contamination on any of these sites.

Finally, the panel concluded that the trial court properly disposed of the plaintiffs' negligence claims. The essential elements of a negligence or gross negligence claim include injury to the plaintiff actually and proximately caused by the defendant's breach of a duty. The experts’ uncontroverted affidavits assert that there was no evidence of contamination on the plaintiffs' property, none of the samples from the FWS study showed toxicity, and any potential contamination could have been from other sources. “The evidence does not establish contamination on [the downstream property owners’] land or the source of any potential contamination,” the opinion noted. “Without this evidence, the ... negligence and gross negligence claims necessarily fail because causation cannot be established ....”

Cross v. Western Waste Industries, et al., No. CV-14-679, Ark.App., Sept. 16, 2015.

Barry Shanoff is a Bethesda, Md., attorney and general counsel of the Solid Waste Association of North America.

Need to Know

Closed Loop Fund Fact Checks John Tierney

We all say the recent New York Times piece by John Tierney that blasted the recycling industry.

Well, the Closed Loop Fund took it upon themselves to fact check the entire article.

Their work can't be reproduced here, but head over to Medium.com to see their work.

Need to Know

EPA Reaches Settlement with Upstate New York Recycler to Ensure Proper Disposal of Lead Glass

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with a Southern Tier electronics recycler that will ensure proper disposal of more than 26 million pounds of lead-containing crushed glass.

The agency says ECO International of Vestal was a recycler of discarded electronic devices such as older televisions and computer monitors until 2013. It no longer receives or processes electronic waste.

EPA inspections in 2012 revealed that the company was in possession of about 13,000 tons of lead-containing CRTs and crushed glass. 

Continue reading here

Need to Know

Tucsonans are Above Average with Recycling, but There's Room to Improve

Go blue or go green.

It’s a decision made thousands, maybe a million times every day when local residents try to figure out what to do with their trash — recycle or send it to the landfill.

Tucson is one of the best cities in the country when it comes to participation in recycling, said Sherri Ludlam, environmental specialist with the city of Tucson’s Environmental Services Department. Roughly 90 percent of city residents recycle at some level, and it’s a slightly higher number outside the city limits — 92 percent — where Waste Management, Inc., provides the service.

But there’s a trend that needs to get turned around, Ludlam said.

Continue reading at Tuscon.com

Need to Know

Solid Waste Authority in Pennsylvania Forced to Close Electronics Recycling Program

Effective Oct. 31, the Electronics Recycling Program sponsored by the Clearfield County Solid Waste Authority and located at its recycling collection site at the jail will close.

This closure is due to circumstances that are complex and unfortunately out of the authority’s ability to control. It will also leave the authority without a contracted recycler to provide such services, said Jodi Brennan, CCSWA director.

“A few years ago, our state legislators passed and our then governor signed into law the Covered Device Recycling Act (CDRA), Act 108 of 2010, which requires manufacturers to provide recycling programs, at no cost to the public, for desktop computers, laptop computers, computer monitors, computer peripherals and televisions sold to consumers in Pennsylvania,” she said.

Continue reading at GantDaily

Need to Know

Orange County, Fla., to Roll Out New Garbage Cans Next Week

Residents in unincorporated Orange County will begin receiving their new 95-gallon roll carts, which will be used to collect their household garbage and recycling when the county’s new automated curbside collection program goes into effect on January 1. Cart distribution for the over 205,000 households will continue throughout the county until mid-December. Along with the roll carts, residents will receive a “welcome kit” that includes a brochure with guidelines for using the roll carts and answers to frequently asked questions. The kit will also include a magnet for residents to write down their new collection days. 

Cart distribution will begin each morning between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., Monday through Saturday. Residents do not need to be home at the time of delivery. Once the roll carts have been dropped off, residents are asked to store them in a safe place until they are permitted for use beginning January 1.

Continue reading at News965.com 

Coal Ash Regulations Will Create New Opportunities for the Waste & Recycling Industry

The National Waste & Recycling Association has been working extensively to gather accurate and developing information on the issue of coal ash disposal following the new rules recently set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The finalized national regulations will affect changes in the way the material will be regulated and managed, opening up service and disposal opportunities for the solid waste industry.

On April 17, 2015, the Federal Register published the Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities providing new requirements for management of coal ash. The rules were developed in response to a large spill in Kingston, Tenn., six years ago when an ash dike ruptured at the Tennessee Valley Authority power plant. Over 5 million cubic yards of coal ash slurry drained into the Emory and Clinch rivers causing damage to homes, roads and utilities.

Although coal combustion residuals (CCR) are sometimes called coal ash, it is more properly referred to as CCR. This is because CCR is not just comprised of ash but other materials as well. Other solids that are included in the CCR include solids formed from efforts utilized to control air pollutants, in particular, flue gas desulfurization materials. In general, the make-up of CCR includes four different solids. These include fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag, and flue gas desulfurization material. Each component of the CCR has its own properties. According to the American Coal Ash Association, almost 115 million tons of material was produced in 2013, with a little over half requiring disposal. The remainder is beneficially reused.

The proposed changes improve the management coal ash disposal sites. Landfills receiving the coal ash must be equipped, experienced and prepared to manage it in a safe manner. The proposed rules subject coal ash to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act’s (RCRA) Subtitle D requirements. Subtitle D are the technical rules governing municipal solid waste.

Subtitle D landfills have safely managed municipal solid waste in the country for over twenty years, providing safeguards to ensure effective operations and groundwater protections. These landfills are generally distributed geographically in every part of the country. Many Subtitle D landfills have accepted and managed coal ash in the past. And, given landfill capacity projections, sufficient landfill capacity exists to handle the coal ash waste.

Subtitle D requirements include specific criteria to protect both the water and air. The rule establishes requirements to assess the structural integrity of coal ash disposal facilities and ensure that the facility achieves a minimum factor of safety. This decision provides the framework necessary to ensure the safe disposal and appropriate reuse of these non-hazardous materials.

The guidelines released on the EPA website include:

  • Groundwater monitoring around surface impoundments and landfills;
  • Liner requirements for new surface impoundments and landfills to protect groundwater;
  • Groundwater cleanup from coal ash contamination;
  • The closure of unlined surface impoundments that are polluting groundwater;
  • The closure of surface impoundments that fail to meet engineering and structural standards or are located too close to a drinking water source;
  • Restrictions on the location of new surface impoundments and landfills so that they cannot be built in sensitive areas such as wetlands and earthquake zones; and
  • Proper closure of all surface impoundments and landfills that will no longer receive CCRs.

Because existing landfill capacity exists, there are opportunities for both the coal ash industry and the solid waste industry to work together to solve disposal issues. Existing infrastructure provides flexibility to generators to develop alternative beneficial use options without having to consider potential infrastructure investments. In addition, smaller facilities that do not generate large quantities of materials may see advantages in acquiring disposal management services rather than continuing to develop that capacity internally.

Many utilities are beginning the process of ensuring environmental compliance and reducing liability by relocating coal ash. For example, Duke Energy began the process of relocating 1.2 million tons of ash years earlier than required by the rules in order to regain the public’s trust. In order to protect groundwater or surface water from coal ash, utilities are beginning the journey to comply with the new rules and the public will be safer as a result.

The association encourages the exploration of these valuable opportunities for our members that have resulted from this development. We believe the EPA’s ruling opens the door for the waste and recycling industry to apply its expertise and experience in handling waste to become more involved in coal ash disposal—particularly with respect to landfills. Working within industry guidelines as well as with members, utilities and regulators, the association is spearheading efforts to maximize education, awareness and partnership-building around this timely issue. 

Anne Germain is director of waste and recycling technology for the National Waste & Recycling Association.