A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 April 1992


NEW JERSEY: NEWARK. “PREMATURE TUBE FAILURES” AT AMERICAN REF-FUEL’S 2,250 TPD INCINERATOR SHUTS DOWN 1-YEAR OLD INCINERATOR FOR SEVEN DAYS. According to a 2-27-92 report in the Newark Star Ledger: “...Such an outage was never supposed to happen. The $320 million Essex County facility has three separate burners and was designed so that each of its boilers could be taken out for maintenance without halting the flow of garbage. But a problem affecting two of the boilers developed during the weekend, and then the third boiler went down yesterday morning, leaving plant officials no option but to cease operations. The incinerator normally burns 1,500 tons of trash each day from Essex and under a regional agreement takes in another 900 tons a day from Bergen and up to 300 tons per day from Hudson County. According to American Ref-Fuel, which operates the incinerator, the boiler problem was caused by premature tube failures. Those tubes carry water heated by the burning garbage, creating steam that spins a turbine generator to produce electricity. A Ref-Fuel spokesman said a preliminary engineering investigation indicated the tube failures were caused by the flames from the burning garbage being directed onto the walls in a small area of the boiler. Repairs were under way yesterday, along with modifications to help avoid similar problems, the spokesman said....Crane operators, who feed the plant’s boilers with remote-controlled grappling claws that pull trash out of a disposal pit the size of a football field, were piling up mounds of smelly waste to the top of the 95-foot pit wall to make some room for garbage still on the outside tipping floor...the garbage will be sent to the Pioneer Crossing Landfill in Birdsborough, PA., until the waste-to-energy facility returns to service...” The Star Ledger reported on 3-3-92 that 150 workers were assigned to work on repairing the problems at the incinerator and that “[t]wo speciality engineers from Deutsche Babcock Analgen, the European designer of the technology, are also working on the repairs...” The current tip fee at the Newark incinerator is $73.52 per ton and is soon expected to rise to between $77-$90 per tip fee ton. Ash from the incinerator is sent to the Chambers Landfill in Charles City, VA. In 1991 Bergen County rejected building an incinerator and chose instead to landfill their waste at the Chambers Landfill for $60 per ton. Because the oversized Essex County incinerator had a shortage of trash, a deal was made with Bergen County. That deal allows Bergen County to bring waste to the Newark incinerator for $45.16 a ton, and when the tip fee rises for Essex County, Bergen will still pay less per ton than Essex County. (See Waste Not #127 for history of Newark’s incinerator).
For more info. contact Betty Wood at 201-226-1595 or Arnold Cohen at the Ironbound Committee at 201-589-4668.


When Albany’s incinerator went on line in 1982 it was state-of-the-art. It was designed to burn 600 tpd -but was only able to burn 400 tpd- and is located next to the State capitol buildings, in downtown Albany. Aside from a 10 year history of supplying the area with excessive particulate emissions, the incinerator supplies heat and air conditioning to NY State’s office buildings. According to Judy Enck of the New York Public Interest Research Group this plant has several unique features. 1. It is owned and operated by the State of New York. The state has determined that this notoriously poorly run incinerator (operated by the State!) would need millions of dollars for a retrofit to meet federal air emission standards by 1995, and instead of retrofitting, they have decided to stop burning garbage in the incinerator before February 1995 and, instead, burn a cleaner fuel in the facility: natural gas. 2. A sweetheart contract between the city of Albany and NY State was signed in 1982. (The project was “conceived” by Erastus Corning II, who had served as Mayor of Albany for 40 years -the longest tenured Mayor in America.) The city of Albany gets paid by the State for the garbage it delivers to the incinerator (which includes municipal waste from 14 other communities). The city of Albany receives approximately $10 million a year for delivering garbage to the state-run incinerator and for disposing of the ash! The State owns and operates the RDF incinerator and the shredding operation (which is located “far from habitation” at the Rapp Road landfill site in Albany) and the city owns the landfill. The ash is landfilled at the unlined Rapp Road landfill, which has no leachate collection, located in the middle of the Albany Pine Bush -an ecological pristine area that is home to the Karner blue butterfly, which is soon expected to enter the endangered species list. The city got an expansion to the landfill, and now they want to sell the landfill to a private company. 2. The incinerator has seldom, if ever, been in compliance with its permit conditions for particulate emissions. Pollution controls: a 3-field electrostatic precipitator (ESP). Thomas Jorling, Commissioner of the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), lives within 500 feet of this incinerator, and has stated on several occasions that this incinerator is “abysmal.” The incinerator is operated by New York Office of General Services. 3. The incinerator was cited in 1991 by the NY-based INFORM group for emitting the highest levels of dioxins and furans out of 7 incinerators they had data on - 188 times the state-of-the-art standard on dioxin of 0.10 nanograms per dry normal cubic meter. Albany measured 18.8 ng/dry normal cubic meter. Of the 7 incinerators INFORM reported on, the Albany plant had the highest furnace temperature, 2500°F, and the highest dioxin emissions. (Reference: Burning Garbage in the US: Practice vs. State of the Art, published in 1991 by INFORM, 381 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10016. Tel: 212-689-4040.) 4. The RDF operation has suffered more than 32 explosions in the last few years. The shredding plant was designed by Smith & Mahoney of Albany. (The boilers were built by Zurn Industries.) 5. In 1986 Dr. Daniel Wartenburg, then with the Harvard School of Public Health, concluded that the plant’s chromium and nickel emissions could cause a significant increase in cancer cases among people living near the plant. Wartenburg calculated a lifetime cancer risk from NY DEC test results of ambient air emissions for chromium and nickel: up to 3,000 cancers per million from the chromium emissions and 300 cancers per million from the nickel emissions. The response of the state was not to shut down the incinerator, but rather to study where the chromium was coming from. Though we never found out where the chromium was coming from, one explanation given was that the chromium might be from from the shredding operation of the garbage to make the refuse derived fuel. According to a report in the Albany Times Union of 11-13-86: “...the equipment used to shred the trash is made of a steel alloy which has a high chromium content. The plant has two shredders, each of which consists of 16 steel hammers. Those hammers periodically wear out...about 1,000 pounds of steel from the hammers decompose into the garbage each month. For the past several years the plant has been using replacement hammers which...contain relatively high amounts of chromium. Although most of the chromium is bonded into the steel alloy, the report states that chromium which is not ‘fixed’ into the steel makes up 2.17 percent of the weight. That would mean that of the 1,000 pounds of steel wearing off the hammers each month, nearly 22 pounds would be chromium...As the shredders wear out, they have to go in and weld on what they call ‘buildup’ onto the walls and the rotors...It has a high chromium and high nickel content. We used about 100 pounds of that a month. Over the past six years, I’d say we used at least 5,000 pounds of weld wire...” 6. Dangerously elevated lead levels have been detected in children who lived near the plant and a lawsuit is under consideration. Of 9 incinerators that INFORM had data on, the Albany incinerator had the highest lead emissions. 7. NY State and Albany have put out bids to sell the incinerator operations, which include the RDF incinerator, the shredding operation and the city owned landfill. 17 companies have responded to the request for bids, including BFI & Wheelabrator. For more information contact Judy Enck at NYPIRG’s Albany office: Tel: 518-436-0876.


"Preliminary results of a state study show toxic mercury in rainwater and eels sampled near the Warren County garbage incinerator, officials said yesterday...In rainwater, the study found concentrations of soluble mercury ranging from below detectable levels to 540 parts per trillion, according to a DEPE [Department of Environmental Protection & Energy] summary. Rainwater was collected at 17 sites near the incinerator on four separate days in the winter and fall of 1991, the summary said. The sites ranged from 1.5 kilometers to 5 kilometers away from the plant, scattered in different directions. DEPE officials said the samples at the high end of the range were higher than a recent Minnesota study, but cautioned the latter involved monthly averages over a longer period of time. The highest reading ‘was one collection, on one day at one site,' Sindling [assistant DEPE commissioner in charge of policy and research] said...Air sampling at four sites near the plant found concentrations of vapor-state mercury ranging from 0.52 to 25.69 micrograms of mercury in a cubic meter of air. New Jersey has no health standard for the metal, but Pennsylvania requires the air around an incinerator to contain no more than 0.024 micrograms of mercury in a cubic meter of air..." The Times [Trenton, NJ], 4-2-92, pgs. A-1 & A-9. For more information contact: Anna Maria Caldara at 201-362-8805.

WASTE NOT # 191 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.