A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 Dec. 1993 - Jan. 1994

A Review of Waste-to-Energy
Trash Incinerators in the U.S.A.

# 1: Introduction to 24-part series

Looking at the numbers: If you listen to the promoters of MSW (municipal solid waste) incineration, both in industry and in government, you would believe that we are dealing with a cost effective, environmentally benign, proven technology which is only unpopular with those who have not tried it! If, on the other hand, you visited many of the communities in the U.S. which are saddled with these facilities, you would hear a different story: a story of subverted democracy, economic disaster, environmental worries, and piles of incinerator ash that no one knows what to do with except sending it somewhere else. To find out which view is closer to the truth, Waste Not has spent the last few months reviewing the track record of this industry. The starting point of this 24-part series review (with more issues still to come) has been the summaries prepared by the Governmental Advisory Associates, Inc. To GAA’s skeletal framework of important economic and technical data we have added information drawn from our extensive files and first hand experience. We have also used this opportunity to reference all the issues of Waste Not which refer to individual facilities. So this listing can also be used until a complete index for Waste Not is undertaken. We are treating this effort very much as a “work in progress” and would appreciate readers’ corrections and additions. In the next mailing we will list all the incinerators which have been permanently shutdown and the projects which have been abandoned.

TABLE 1: A Brief Overview of MSW Incinerators

Year #s Operating Tons-Per-Day 1993: # of Incinerators by Size 1993 Operating Incinerators:

1988 102 53,346 0 - 250 tpd 40 On-Line Dates

1991 125 95,498 260 to 500 tpd 16 Up to & including 1985 35

1993 114* 96,050 510 to 750 tpd 14 On-Line 1986,1987 23

760 to 1000 tpd 7 On Line 1988 22 1010 - 1700 tpd 16 On Line 1989 12

1710 - 2505 tpd 15 On Line 1990, 1991 17

Over 2510 tpd 6 On Line 1992, 1993 5

* Note: We did not include the Tuscaloosa, AL, and Salem, VA, plants in the above 1993 calculations. Both were permanently shut down in 1993. (In error, we included them as operating/1993 in WN#s 252-253. The Albany, NY, incinerator was included in the above calculations even though it was permanently shut down on January 29, 1994! See WN# 264 about the excessive soot releases from the Albany incinerator which provoked intense citizen pressure that led to the shut down. Details in WN# 275.

Currently 31 states have operating municipal waste incinerators (with Tuscaloosa, AL, permanently shutdown). Contrary to the often cited figure of 140 MSW incinerators operating in the U.S. (and the even larger number of incinerators projected to be operating by this time) there are only 113 MSW incinerators (with the Albany, NY, incinerator permanently closed on January 29, 1994) currently operating with energy recovery. We have excluded the plants that do not operate with energy recovery, the plants that have been closed down and the facilities which only separate and shred refuse derived fuel for burning elsewhere. (We plan to do a special issue on RDF.) Moreover, if we further subtract the smaller plants which are burning 250 tons-per-day or less, then the number of incinerators operating which are representative of facilities being proposed today drops to 73.

LOOKING BEYOND THE NUMBERS: Some of the repeating patterns which emerge from our annotated listing (WN#s 254-274) include the frequency with which a trash incinerator has caused severe economic problems. However, as severe as the economic dislocations are for the host community, there is little financial loss to the incinerator companies. They usually insulate themselves from these problems with contracts which local officials usually do not understand, and the local taxpayers do not see, until it is too late. Frequently the incinerator is oversized because of poor waste generation assessments by consulting companies. Often the local community is tied into a “put-or-pay” agreement and has to pay tipping fees for trash they do not deliver. As these communities scramble to get more trash from out of the county, or even out of the state, to make up the shortfall, they find themselves agreeing to burn a more exotic waste stream, like medical wastes, tires, industrial waste and construction waste. For a good description of these “supplemental wastes” see WN# 273 (Fairfax County, Virginia). Another interesting phenomena has been the number of communities (or companies) which have sold the ownership of their facility to large companies. See Table 2 for a listing of such sales.

TABLE 2: The New Trend for MSW Incinerator Ownership


Bridgeport, CT Ford Motor Credit Corp. 1988 WHEELABRATOR 2,250

Panama City, FL Ford Motor Credit Corp. 1987 WESTINGHOUSE 510

Millbury, MA Ford Motor Credit Corp. 1988 WHEELABRATOR 1,500

Honolulu, HI Ford Motor Credit Corp. & City of Honolulu 1990 OGDEN MARTIN 2,160

Baltimore, MD State Street Bank & Trust Co. of Conn. 1985 WHEELABRATOR 2,250

Detroit, MI Phillip Morris Capital Corp. 1989 OGDEN MARTIN 4,000

Minneapolis, MN General Electric Credit Corp. 1990 OGDEN MARTIN 1,200

Tulsa, OK Bank of Oklahoma, CIT Group, 1986 OGDEN MARTIN 1,125

Manufacturers Hanover

Chester, PA Connecticut National Bank (Trustee) 1992 WESTINGHOUSE 2,688

Charleston, SC AT & T Credit Corp. 1989 FOSTER WHEELER 644

Note: The majority of operating MSW incinerators are owned by municipalities, either county or city (for a total of 44); miscellaneous vendors & others (19); State approved Authorities (10); Utilities (5); the above (10); Ogden Martin owns 12; Wheelabrator owns 8; American Ref-Fuel owns 4; and Foster Wheeler owns 2.

TABLE 3: Top 10 States for MSW Waste-to-Energy Incinerators in 1993

States which # of Tons-Per-Day Under COMPANY

burn the most Operating (Design Capacity) Construction BUILDING

MSW: Incinerators # TPD & LOCATION

Florida 14 17,498 1 1,200 Ogden, Fort Myers, Lee County

New York 12* 10,873 1 990 Ogden, Syracuse

Massachusetts 8 9,450 0 0

Pennsylvania 6 7,202 1 1,600 Wheelabrator, Falls Township._

Virginia 6* 6,330 0 0

Connecticut 5 5,920 1 500 Wheelabrator, Lisbon

Michigan 3 4,825 0 0

New Jersey 5 4,382 1 1,440 Ogden in Union County.

Maryland 2 2,610 1 1,800 Ogden in Montgomery County.

Ohio 3 3,900 0 0

* See Note in Table 1.ººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººººº

11988-1989 Resource Recovery Yearbook, Directory & Guide, by Eileen Berenyi, Ph.D. and Robert N. Gould, 718 pages, published in 1988 by Governmental Advisory Associates, Inc. (a private consulting/research group), 177 East 87th Street, NY, NY 10128. Tel: 212-410-4165. Fax: 212-410-6607. Available for $350 for non-profit/government groups; $495 for others.

1991 Resource Recovery Yearbook, Directory & Guide, 746 pages, published in 1991, ibid. Available for $200.

1993-1994 Resource Recovery Yearbook, Directory & Guide, 670 pages, published in 1993, ibid. Available for $200.

Note: Also available from GAA are their Yearbooks for 1982 (first publication), 1984 and 1986, at $200 per copy.

WASTE NOT # 251. 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 $US50; Overseas $65.

Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.