A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 May 16, 1991

Correction to Waste Not #149: Ensco’s hazardous waste incinerator was fined $251,633 on April 16, 1991 (not April 26, 1991).

NEW JERSEY: FIRE AT FOSTER WHEELER’S NEW 1,000 TPD TRASH INCINERATOR IN THE CITY OF CAMDEN. Foster Wheeler’s $108 million incinerator went on line on March 25. “A power outage caused a fire in a trash chute at the South Camden incinerator on Morgan Boulevard...the fire started after a power outage at 11 p.m. Saturday. Plant manager Newt Wattis said the power was restored by 2:30 a.m. yesterday, and one of the plant’s three boilers, which measure 14 feet wide by 18 feet long by 100 feet tall, was operating by noon yesterday. The other two boilers are expected to be back on line today, Wattis said. Purves [director of Camden’s Pollution Control Financing Authority] said the plant is designed to rely on the electricity it produces as a backup during an outage. But that didn’t happen on Saturday...Wattis said he wouldn’t characterize the fire as a failure of the plant’s backup systems. He said trash had clogged the door of one of the chutes, called hoppers, that feed trash into the boiler pits, where it is burned. Purves said the plant is required to shut down during a power outage, just as it did Saturday night. However, the boiler pit fires continued to burn. Fire escaped one pit and climbed upward into its hopper. Plant employees were unable to close the door to the pit manually and the fire burned for more than four hours, Purves said. The plant filled with heavy smoke, workers were evacuated and the fire department was called. Wattis said the door was closed manually when the trash volume fell below the level of the door. He said the plant shut down safely despite the problem. ‘These were not normal circumstances,’ Wattis said. Jackie Donahue, a spokeswoman for Public Service Electric & Gas Co., said the power outage was caused by a failed cable that feeds electricity to the incinerator. She said many large operations, like the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, plan for such failures by having a backup cable. ‘Any kind of big plant usually does have a backup, but at the Resource Recovery Plant they have just the one cable,’ Donahue said. She added that business must purchase their own cable lines, and ‘it’s very expensive.’...Purves said the fire posed no threat to residents. ‘This facility will probably go another 20 years and that problem would never happen again,’ he said...” Courier-Post, NJ, 5-13-91. (See also Waste Not #92.)

A 30-page abstract of a soon-to-be published Greenpeace Encyclopedia of Waste Management Inc.
By Charlie Cray (Greenpeace Chicago Office) -- Abstract available for $5 from
Greenpeace, 1436 U Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009. Tel: 202-462-1177.
Greenpeace urges divestment from Waste Management “Toxic” Stock. Anyone who needs information on WMI will find it in this publication. The following is from the abstract of the ‘encyclopedia on WMI’ which will be published by Greenpeace later this summer. “Waste Management Inc. is the world’s largest waste disposal company. Its annual revenue grew from 76 million dollars in 1971 to six billion dollars in 1990. It ranks 19th in the Fortune 500 list of the largest diversified service companies in the U.S. It hauls garbage from almost eight million households in the U.S., in over 1350 communities. It operates over 128 landfills in at least 36 states...According to a Prudential-Bache securities analyst, WMI’s subsidiary, Chemical Waste Management (CWM), is the largest hazardous waste disposal company in the U.S. CWM controls up to one-third of the entire U.S. commercial hazardous waste treatment and disposal capacity...WMI also controls the largest nuclear waste disposal firm in the U.S. (Chem Nuclear), owns 49% of the U.S.’s largest asbestos removal company (Brand Industries), and owns 55% of the U.S.’s largest garbage incineration firm (Wheelabrator Technologies). Waste Management’s growth is achieved mainly by devouring its competitors -- smaller waste haulers, and disposal firms -- from the streets of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Venezuela. In some cases their tactics -- which reportedly include bid-rigging, predatory pricing, price-fixing and even alleged physical threats -- have resulted in criminal and civil suits...WMI has become one of the main corporate financiers of U.S. congressional campaigns in the United States. The WMI Employees ‘Better Government Fund’ was the seventh largest corporate political action committee (PAC) during the 1988 U.S. elections, giving over $430,000 to candidates for U.S. Congress from 1987 to 1988. Untold additional funds went to politicians from WMI subsidiary PAC’s, and directly from WMI stockholders, employees and their relatives...At least seven former top EPA officials have been hired by WMI and CWM. For example, Walt Barber, a CWM vice president, once was the acting administrator of EPA; Gary Dietrich, a WMI consultant, once helped write solid waste disposal regulations for the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste; Jeffrey Miller, a WMI attorney, once directed EPA’s enforcement division; and Joan Berstein, a CWM vice president, once was EPA’s General Counsel...WMI’s corporate ‘grants’ to environmental and conservation groups totaled more than $892,000 between 1987 and 1989...Greenpeace estimates that WMI has paid over $43,000,000 since 1980 in fines, penalties and out of court settlements for admitted and alleged violations of [U.S.] environmental laws at its dumpsites...At least 45 WMI waste sites have been found out of compliance with federal or state environmental laws at its dumpsites...By the end of 1989, WMI was listed as a Potentially Responsible Party at 96 sites on the U.S. Superfund National Priority List, while its subsidiary Chemical Waste Management was listed for 25...One U.S. EPA official has estimated the potential cost of ‘cleaning up’ WMI’s contamination at over 2.4 billion dollars...In 1990, an investment analysis firm quoted in Fortune [Feb. 12, 1990, p. 27] magazine gave WMI its worst environmental rating...In 1989, CWM was levied a proposed fine of $4,475,000 [they paid $3.75 million] --one of the highest EPA fines ever in the US-- for numerous violations at the Chicago [haz.waste] incinerator...CWM’s other major toxic waste incinerator is located in Sauget, Illinois. Dirty operations there, too, have forced the state of Illinois to fine CWM for environmental violations. In February 1990, Illinois fined CWM $250,000 for operating the incinerator for four days without a stack gas hydrocarbon monitor, and other violations, such as burning waste faster than permitted. Operations began at CWM’s newest incinerator, in Port Arthur, Texas, this year. CWM plans to eventually burn three times as much wastes at this facility than any other CWM incinerator complex....At least 10 garbage incinerators in the U.S. are currently operated by WMI and Wheelabrator...WMI operates at least seven medical waste incinerators, and plans to own a total of 18 in the U.S...Since 1988, CWM has become a supplier of solvent waste fuel for many cement kilns in the U.S. and for a WMI-owned incinerator in Mexico. The company’s West Carrollton, Ohio, solvent fuel blending plant received over 108 million pounds of chlorinated solvent wastes from 26 states in 1989. CWM currently operates fuel blending facilities in Newark, NJ; Azusa, CA; Henderson, CO; and Tijuana, Mexico...”

MERCURY: “...Researchers who study the methymercury problem point to combustion pollutants in the air as the primary source of mercury in most highly contaminated lake fish, says Greg Mierle, a biophysical ecologist at the Dorset [Ontario, Canada] Research Center. Yet as recently as a decade ago, scientists had all but discounted air pollution an an important source of the metal. Why the turnabout? The few tests conducted in the early 1980s to measure mercury in rainwater turned up only scant amounts, Mierle recalls. Because mercury contamination plagued so many lakes - including ones in remote, nonindustrial regions- some researchers reasoned that the metal must have come from natural geologic deposits. ‘The problem,’ Mierle says, ‘is that the analytical techniques used in the early ‘80s were not very good.’ That realization led Mierle and his co-workers to spend several years improving mercury assay methods. The Dorset team then set about measuring all of the mercury entering one Ontario lake, as the metal trickled in with rain and with drainage from surrounding lands. And somewhat to our surprise,’ Mierle says, ‘it turned out that the direct deposition from rain accounted for about half the mercury coming into the lake.’ He adds that these data, published in the September 1990 Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (ET&C), also indicate that ‘there’s more than enough mercury in rain falling on the watershed [lands draining into the lake] to account for what enters the lake from runoff. The scary thing,’ Mierle says, is that the ‘very low levels’ of mercury typically found in rain can cause such dramatic contamination. Industrial mercury fallout, generally measured at only a few parts per trillion in rain, could add as little as 0.3 gram of mercury a year to a 25-acre lake, according to the August EPRI report. Yet this ‘is more than enough to account for all the mercury that we’re seeing in fish and other biota,’ Mierle says.” According the John W.M. Rudd of the Freshwater Institute in Winnipeg, Manitoba: “Since combustion pollutants can not only acidify surface waters but also enrich their mercury concentration, Rudd suspects that acid rain packs a double whammy. ‘In some of our experiments,’ he says, ‘if we both decreased [a water's] pH and increased its mercury concentration, we got kind of a double effect’ on methylation rates, compared with the effect of either factor alone...” Science News, 3-9-91, pp 152-156. A copy of this article is available from Waste Not. Please send a SASE.

WASTE NOT # 151 A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Groups & Non-Profits $50; Students & Seniors $35; Individual $40; Consultants & For-Profits $125; Canadian $US45; Overseas $65. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.