By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
7:27 PM EST, January 24, 2013
Berkeley County leaders are backing a company that wants to build a $19 million facility to produce a solid refuse fuel from household garbage that could then be burned at a Martinsburg cement plant.
The Berkeley County Council voted 5-0 in support of Entsorga West Virginia LLC’s proposal to build a commercial mixed waste resource recovery facility at the old county landfill property off Grapevine Road.
Project consultant Emily F. Dyson told county leaders Thursday that Entsorga could be positioned to provide fuel to the Essroc cement plant in 2014 if the project clears final county and state regulatory, planning and engineering hurdles.
The vote by the county council comes little more than a week before an administrative law judge with the West Virginia Public Service Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing Feb. 1 in Martinsburg about Entsorga’s proposal.
The hearing is slated to begin at 10:30 a.m. in the circuit courtroom of the historic Berkeley County Courthouse at 100 W. King St.
Solid Waste Authority Chairman Clint Hogbin, who gave council members an overview of the proposed facility, said the project would create about 100 construction jobs and employ 10 to 12 people full time.
In addressing specific concerns, Hogbin said garbage can-like odors at the facility are to be contained by a vacuum system in the building and exhaust released from the facility would go through a mulch bio-filter.
Any odor at the exhaust point would be undetectable a few steps away from the filter, Hogbin said.
About 15 garbage trucks are expected to travel to the facility on a daily basis and the waste haulers would be required to access the old landfill site via W.Va. 9, according to Hogbin and Dyson.
Hogbin said the company has asked for permission to haul up to 9,999 tons of garbage monthly or about 120,000 tons per year to the facility.
Entsorga also has agreed in writing to providing the public a “free day” each month to allow residents to drop off garbage at the facility for no charge, he said.
The garbage trucks would travel on paved roads at all times so there would not be a mud issue and Dyson said the company has been working with the West Virginia Division of Highways to address road improvements.
At least 80 percent of municipal waste processed at the facility would be from West Virginia.
Entsorga told the PSC in its application for a Certificate of Need that no hazardous or infectious medical waste, incineration or combustion would be involved in the mechanical and biological treatment process.
Hogbin said Entsorga would be competing with the operators of North Mountain Sanitary Landfill near Hedgesville, W.Va., by diverting hundreds of tons of recyclable material from being dumped there directly to the waste recovery facility.
Recycling of metals alone could roughly double as a result of the Entsorga venture, according to Hogbin.
The company said in its application with the PSC in June 2012 that the municipal solid waste picked up on curbsides would be screened with a large rotary drum that would tear open trash bags to aerate the garbage.
Large pieces of plastic, paper and cardboard would be mechanically separated and set aside for the refining stage of the process, and the remaining waste, including organic materials, would go directly to a “bio-stabilization area,” the company said.
An air-circulation system would be used to cause rapid composting, and a combination of fresh and recirculated warm air would be used to reduce moisture in the waste, leaving a dry paper-like product, the application said.
Hogbin presented council members with a clear plastic bag of the fuel product Thursday, which he said was produced at a “sister” facility in Europe. The bag contained small pieces of newspaper, wrappers and other unidentifiable materials.
Hogbin said Essroc is “very interested” in Entsorga’s proposal and would burn less coal for its cement-making operation at the end of South Queen Street.
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