A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 December 1992
THE DECISION ON WHETHER MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE (MSW) INCINERATOR ASH IS A HAZARDOUS WASTE IS FAR FROM OVER. In a New York Times, 11-17-92, article (page B-10), headlined Hazardous-Waste Ruling Overturned, the NYT mis-informed its readers when it stated in the first paragraph: At the Bush Administrations urging, the Supreme Court today overturned [sic] a Federal appeals courts decision requiring cities to treat the ash from municipal incinerators as a hazardous waste rather than ordinary waste than can be deposited cheaply in a landfill. The Supreme Court did not overturn Chicagos 7th Circuit of Appeals decision of Nov. 19, 1991 (see Waste Not #173) which ruled that MSW incinerator ash is a hazardous waste under Subtitle C of RCRA. What the U.S. Supreme Court did do, was to remand the case back to the 7th Circuit Court to reconsider their decision in light of U.S. EPAs statement in September that MSW ash is a non-hazardous waste, thus reversing their 1985 position on the ash issue. According to Richard Denison, a senior scientist at the Environmental Defence Fund in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Supreme Court, in deciding to hear the appeal, requested the U.S. Justice Department to ask the EPA what their position was. The EPA responded in September with the position that ash is a non-hazardous waste. At the same time the U.S. EPA distributed that decision widely, without noting that their new decision was a response to a request from the U.S. Supreme Court. The NYT article more accurately described the situation when it reported: In a brief filed last month in response to the Supreme Courts request for the Governments views, the Solicitor-Generals office said the Environmental Protection Agencys new policy should be given great weight by the courts...Both the City of Chicago and the Environmental Defence Fund, which had sued the city in 1988 to establish that Chicago should treat the residue from its Northwest Waste-to-Energy Facility as a hazardous waste, urged the Justices to reject the Solicitor Generals advice. The city said that sending the case back to the Seventh Circuit would result in only more cost and delay. The Environmental Defense Fund said there was no reason to send the case back, because the dispute was one of Federal law and not [EPA] agency policy... Whatever the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decides, the City of Chicago or the Environmental Defense Fund will appeal the decision back to the Supreme Court. One of the arguments that the City of Chicago used in its appeal of the 7th Circuit Court decision was, according to the 11-17-92 NYT article, that ...the average cost in the Midwest for disposing of a ton of hazardous waste is $210, compared to $23 a ton for ordinary waste.
According to a report in R.I.s Standard-Times of 11-11-92, page 16-A: Ogden Martin Systems Inc., of New Jersey, is suing the state for up to $100 million and is seeking to overturn legislation adopted [July 14, 1992 - see Waste Not # 198-199] that prohibits the construction of incinerators. Ogden Martin was awarded contracts by the Solid Waste Management Corporation [SWMC] to build incinerators at Quonset Point in North Kingstown and at the Central Landfill in Johnston. The company claims in its suit that the state has unjustly taken property away from it, while it has devoted substantial time and money into planning for the two incinerator projects. Ogden Martin states in the suit that it has already spent $2 million in planning for the projects. The ban on incineration was passed amid heavy lobbying efforts...It also came as the SWMC was seeking air quality permits from the states Department of Environmental Management. Those permits are expected to be ruled upon by the end of the month. J. William Harsch, the lawyer hired by the town to fight the proposed incinerator...called Ogden Martins suit an example of bullying tactics. This lawsuit is unjustified, Harsch said... The R.I. Journal-Bulletin of 11-7-92 reported: ...According to yesterdays statement, the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Providence, argues that the ban on incineration constitutes an unconstitutional taking of property from Ogden. Ogden has devoted substantial time and resources and expended significant funds towards building the Johnston and North Kingstown plants, said Scott G. Macklin, president and chief operating officer...The suits were filed by two subsidiaries of the parent company, Ogden Martin Systems of Rhode Island Inc. and Ogden Energy Resources Corp....
The following article, published in the Wall Street Journal, 11-23-92, page B-3, is reprinted in its entirety: Ogden Corp., continuing its expansion in the waste-to-energy industry, reached an agreement in principle to buy the U.S. waste-to-energy business of Asea Brown Boveri Inc., Stanford, Conn. The proposed purchase reflects consolidation in the waste-to-energy industry as less significant players sell their interests in the business, said Jeffrey Berg, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, Fla. Ogden said the purchase, for $50 million to $55 million, is expected to be completed in late 1992 subject to certain approvals and conditions. Asea Brown Boveri Ltd. of Zurich, Switzerland, said the proposed sale reflects its changing focus to supplying equipment from processing in the waste-to-energy business. Ogden said its 85%-owned Ogden Projects would buy three waste-to-energy facilities and assume contractual and financial obligations to operate them. The operations include a 3,300 ton-per-day facility in Detroit; a 2,160 ton-per-day in Honolulu, Hawaii, and a 2,000 ton-per-day facility in Hartford, Conn. The acquisition would expand Ogdens operating base from 21 projects with a capacity of 20,675 tons per day to 24 projects with capacity of 28.135 tons per day, the company said. Barry Mannis, an environmental services analyst at Morgan Stanley & Co., said the acquisition would extend Ogdens lead in terms of the number of plants it has in operation. He added that major players such as Ogden are increasingly focusing on acquisition of existing projects, because it has become significantly harder to secure permits and develop new projects. An Asea Brown Boveri spokeswoman declined to specify earnings and revenue for its waste-to-energy business other than to say the business is profitable. She said the company would continue to be a supplier of boilers, emission control equipment and materials handling equipment to the waste-to-energy industry. The three plants represent a departure for Ogden, which uses mass burn technology in its waste-to-energy plants. Asea Brown Boveris waste-to-energy plants employ a refuse derived fuel technology that involves the extra process of treating and shredding municipal wastes before incineration.
According to the new book Kissinger, by Walter Isaacson, published in 1992 by Simon & Schuster, ASEA Brown Boveri (page 733) had a contract or project arrangement with Henry Kissingers money-making consulting firm, Kissinger Associates, in 1990. According to this fascinating book, Kissinger started his consultancy in July 1982 with $350,000 lent to him by Goldman Sachs and a consortium of three other banks. Some of the people Kissinger hired to work for him were Brent Snowcroft, former national security adviser, and Lawrence Eagleburger who was lured aboard as president in June 1984 after serving as undersecretary of state. Both Snowcroft and Eagleburger left Kissinger Associates in 1989 to join President Bushs administration. Kent Associates is a subsidiary of Kissinger Associates. On pages 733-734 a list of some of Kissingers corporate clients include, aside from ABB: Shearson Lehman Hutton, Atlantic Richfield, Banca Nazionale del Lavora (BNL) a Rome bank that made illegal loans to Iraq; Fluor; Hunt Oil; Merck & Co.; Union Carbide.
In early 1990 ABB bought out Combustion Engineering for $1.6 billion. Combustion built the Detroit, Honolulu and Hartford incinerators. In 1990 ABB also bought Blounts Swiss-subsidiary and owner of the mass-burn technology - W + E Umwelttechnik AG -that Blount used in its municipal waste incinerators. Montenay bought W+Es U.S. license, while ABB bought W+Es worldwide (non U.S.) license. In 1991 Ogden Martin bought Blounts operations and ownership contract for the Warren County, NJ, incinerator; the operations contract for the Minneapolis, MN, incinerator; and Blounts operations and ownership contract for the the proposed Quonset Point incinerator in R.I. Blount sold the Minneapolis, Hennepin County, MN, incinerator to the General Electric Capital Corp. (see Waste Not #s 71 & 95) after Blount had secured non-transferrable bonds from Hennepin County! The transfer was in the works even before the Minneapolis incinerator went on line because of Blounts decision to get out of the incinerator business. ABBs-Combustion Engineering Honolulu incinerator, built on a beautiful beach abutting the ocean, went on line in October 1989, but was sold to Ford Motor Credit Corp. in November 1989 (-see Waste Not # 95). The Honolulu deal was negotiated for the City of Honolulu by Goldman Sachs. Detroits $440 million+ incinerator, the biggest money pit in U.S. incinerator history, was sold to Phillip Morris for $54 million in late 1991. Both the Honolulu and Detroit incinerators were sold for the same reason: bond repayments were breaking the financial backs of both cities. The Hartford incinerator is owned by the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority.
A non-binding referendum was held on Nov. 5th which asked the question: Do you want to have a municipal solid waste incinerator in Havana? There were 970 NO votes and 758 YES votes. Havanas pro-incinerator Mayor reacted to the results by stating the vote did not demonstrate a big enough margin to dump the incinerator project and that the vote, instead, demonstrated enough incinerator support to forge ahead! The Mayor and four of Havanas eight councilmen put up yard signs at their homes with the message: Vote Yes for Incinerator. Havana residents were promised lower property taxes if the incinerator was built.
In November 1991 the advisory board of the States Pollution Control Authority voted to deny a permit to a proposed 800 tpd ABB incinerator (see Waste Not # 174). ABB appealed the decision and in August, 1992, the State Supreme Court overturned the permit denial. Clean Water Action, Dakota County Citizens Against Burning and Earth Protector appealed the Supreme Courts decision. On October 30th, the Supreme Court stated it would not hear the appeal. (ABB used one of the biggest established corporate law firms in the State: Lindquist & Vennun). But the incinerator issue was THE issue for candidates running for Dakota County Commissioner. Anti-incinerator candidates campaigned hard, and on Nov. 5, a majority of anti-incinerator Commissioners were elected into office. Because it was the County that signed the contract with ABB, citizens are optimistic that the new county commissioners will cancel the contract with A.B.B. in early 1993.