A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 April 19, 1990


“A bitterly fought incinerator proposal went up in flames today after Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe announced he no longer supports the project. Ashe’s sudden turnaround caused the company issuing the bonds to yank its support making it impossible to remarket $162 million in bonds to pay for the incinerator, recycling, landfilling and composting programs. Ashe said the frenzied last-minute effort to ensure that all the details are in place is like the story of the Dutch boy trying to stop a flood by sticking his finger in a hole in a dike. ‘The project has more holes than there are fingers,’ Ashe said. Ashe announced that he would recommend to City Council members that they ‘take whatever legal steps are necessary to extricate itself from the transaction,’ including withdrawing from a waste disposal agreement with the county and the Metropolitan Knox Solid Waste Authority. The city, county and authority signed a waste disposal agreement giving control over the waste stream to the authority and pledging the government’s financial backing for the bonds. ‘What he’s done is unprecedented, to change direction two days before the [bond issuance] deadline,’ said Steve Olsen of Prudential-Bache, the company hired to market the bonds. ‘We wouldn’t have gone forward with this without the city’s contract’ on the waste disposal agreement, he said. Ashe’s list of concerns included the state legislature’s rejection of a bill that would have let the authority assess a user fee to homeowners. That action dumped the user fee responsibility the on city council and county commission during an election year. He also complained that contracts for energy production and landfilling were not complete, that the National Park Service had serious concerns about incinerator emissions, and that the authority is facing a lawsuit from anti-incinerator citizens. Assurances from attorneys and consultants that all those loose ends would be accounted for before Thursday’s deadline did not persuade Ashe...Authority employees were being notified they may soon be out of a job...Estimates of existing [Authority] debts were not immediately available...Consultants and attorneys worked day and night for the last four days and finally resolved the concerns of AMBAC, the bond insurer, at about 9 am today, according to attorney Ed Ingram. However, Ashe’s spokesman, George Korda, said that when Ashe talked to AMBAC representatives on the phone, he was told AMBAC shared Ashe’s concerns...” Knoxville Journal, 4-17-90.


The 3 1/2 year battle against the Knoxville incinerator is a story riddled with dirty politics, citizen allegations of intimidation and the tragic death of State Legislature Ted Ray Miller. Ted Ray Miller was the State Legislator whose district was chosen as the location for the Knoxville incinerator. Miller was liked and respected by his constituents. The tragedy began when Knox Metropolitan Solid Waste Authority’s lawyer, Richard Beeler, cooperating with the FBI, met with Miller on seven occasions, and on each occasion handed Miller an envelope with $5,000 cash, for a total of $35,000. Attorney Beeler was ‘wired’ by the FBI, and on the seventh transaction of passing an envelope to Miller, the FBI revealed themselves and these transactions went public. Richard Beeler worked full time for the authority and the FBI had given him the money for the transactions. There was a Grand Jury investigation of Ted Ray Miller. The day before the Grand Jury was to announce its conclusions, Miller killed himself. The public allegations were that Miller had accepted this money in exchange for the withdrawal of his proposed legislation. According to Bill Sellew, the seven envelopes that Miller had accepted were found in his house after his death, all unopened. Anti-incinerator activists and friends could not easily swallow the allegations that Ted Ray Miller was accepting payoffs in return for an end to his opposition to the incinerator. Groups describe the workings of the Knox Metropolitan Solid Waste Authority as: secretive, inflexible, a total refusal to work with citizens, and manipulative of the city and county political system. There are serious allegations that an authority official had been overheard remarking that the authority “would do everything we can do to discredit Ted Ray Miller, so we can stop some of this criticism.” The friends of Ted Ray Miller believe that he never expected to spend the money, that he was planning his own sting operation, but they have no proof. Other people contacted by Waste Not have said they do not believe Ted Ray Miller’s death was a suicide. The major incinerator proponents were Knox County Executive Dwight Kessel and Brown Ayres. Ayres worked for Cumberland Securities and secured the bond before the project - a classic case of a bond in search of a project. Kessel appointed the members of the authority, and authority members appointed Kessel as Chairman of the authority. The authority is estimated to have spent $12 million on trying to get the incinerator built, with the majority of the money spent on consultants. Groups estimate that 98% of the authority’s budget was spent on the incinerator and 2% on recycling. The major consultant to the authority was HDR. Jim Reynolds, the director of the authority, was a former HDR consultant. It is estimated that Jim Reynolds salary was $135,000 - he was paid $75 per hour as director of the authority. Before Mr. Reynolds agreed to become director he had negotiated his salary with the provision that he be allowed to do private consultancy work while maintaining the job of Director. The authority agreed to that. All the residents and groups Waste Not interviewed cited the lack of fair reporting of the Knoxville press. The Tennessee Valley Energy Coalition had been heavily involved in trying to halt this project. For more information contact either TVAC, PO Box 27245, Knoxville, TN, Tel: 615-637-6055, or Bill Sellew at 615-693-2373.


...As part of its efforts to re-permit the 200 tpd Rutland solid-waste Vicon incinerator, which operated for 9 months before it went bankrupt in August 1988, the “Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) would require the owner/operator to demonstrate that they have achieved the hazardous most stringent emission rate (HMSER) for some hazardous air contaminants. ANR has determined that source separation of certain materials prior to incineration may have a beneficial impact on air emissions and is to be considered in the HMSER review process. ANR has preliminarily identified several air contaminants and sources of these contaminants that the owner/operator will be required to address their removal prior to incineration:


- lead-acid batteries - nickel-cadmium - household batteries

- T.V. picture tubes - batteries - thermometers

- electronic circuitry

- lead glass


- polyvinyl chloride COMBUSTION - all ferrous & non-ferrous

PROCESS metals

- yard & food waste

“The owner/operator will be expected to identity specific programs which it can implement to divert these materials from MWC facility (performance standards to be determined.) ANR also would require that the owner/operator review waste generation analysis for the region for any wastes which the owner/operator expects to receive at the facility and which might pose an emissions problem if incinerated or would adversely affect the combustion process. The owner/operator should identify these materials and develop diversion programs which ensure that these materials are either recycled or properly disposed...” Air Permit Requirement for Waste Stream Modification for the Rutland Municipal Waste Combustion Facility, 11-21-89, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, 103 South Main Street, Waterbury, VT 05676.

“...Overestimating emissions can jeopardize projects for environmental reasons...It is critical not to overestimate emissions of mercury because of its potentially adverse environmental impacts...” Emission Estimates for Modern Resource Recovery Facilities, by Robert D. Getter of Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., Wakefield, MA, from the Proceedings of 1988 National Waste Processing Conference, Philadelphia, PA, May 1-4, 1990. pages 219-225.

WASTE NOT #99 A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Individual & Non-Profits $35; Students & Seniors $25; Consultants & For-Profits $100; Canadian Subscriptions $US40. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.