Tag Archives: safeBERM

EnCAP-IT is exhibiting at the NWRA 2019 Southeast Annual Conference on October 28-29, 2019.

EnCAP-IT is exhibiting at the NWRA 2019 Southeast Annual Conference on October 28-29, 2019.

The conference is for industry professionals; at a great location, offering a chance to catch up with industry friends and make new contacts. Hosted by the Florida and Georgia chapters.

Being held at:

The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort
Savannah, GA
www.wasterecycling.org

Come by and see us!

EnCAP-IT is exhibiting at WasteCON 2019 Conference on October 21-24, 2019.

Meet EnCAP-IT at SWANA WasteCON 2019, October 21-24, at the Phoenix Convention Center. Visit us in Booth 637!

This year’s conference is themed “Pathway to Innovation” and will feature interactive activities, tools and resources for solid waste leaders to explore the most important issues and find innovative and sustainable solutions for our environmental challenges.” – SWANA

– Being held at:

Phoenix Convention Center
Phoenix, AZ

Come by and see us!

EnCAP-IT is exhibiting at the NWRA 2019 Mid-Atlantic Annual Conference at the start of next month October 1-2, 2019.

EnCAP-IT is exhibiting at the NWRA 2019 Mid-Atlantic Annual Conference at the start of next month October 1-2, 2019.  

The conference is for industry professionals in the Mid-Atlantic Region …

Being held at:

The Omni Grove Park Inn
290 Macon Drive
Asheville, NC 28804

Come by and see us!

EnCAP-IT, will be exhibiting at the SWANA 2019 Quad State Conference – NC, SC, VA, TN, August 27-30, 2019.

EnCAP-IT is exhibiting at the SWANA 2019 Quad State Conference – NC, SC, VA, TN at the end of the month August 27 – 30, 2019.  

The conference is for industry professionals in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee…

Being held at:

Crowne Plaza-Asheville
1 Resort Drive
Asheville, NC 28806

Come by and see us! (Booth 10)

Innovative Thinking 2

NIMBY, SEBY?

Let’s face it: nobody likes landfills. They’re ugly. They smell. They attract seagulls. But until we can devise methods to recycle or eliminate all residential and construction waste and coal ash, landfills have to be a fixture on our landscape for the foreseeable future.

According to the EPA, as of 2009 (the most recent statistic published), approximately 1,908 municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills were in the continental United States. When you size that up against the 3,537,438 square miles comprising this country’s land mass, their total footprint is pretty modest. But that’s cold comfort if you happen to live near a landfill.

As a consequence, communities are campaigning close their local landfills every day. Just Google “not in my backyard landfill” and you’ll come up with 2,790,000 hits.

Every time residents swing into action and win a NIMBY argument to get their nearest landfill closed, they really solve nothing. Waste will still be generated – ironically, some of it by them – and all they accomplish is to kick their cans, literally, down the road to SEBY – somebody else’s back yard. Maybe we should start calling it SEBY instead of NIMBY.

So, what’s to be done?

This is where knee-jerk reactions need to be replaced by innovative thinking. The problem of solid waste disposal belongs to everyone, not just those living near landfills who wish they were somewhere else.

Manufacturers need to find ways to reduce sold waste through more efficient packaging. The U.S. needs to encourage business to invent more ways to recycle. The U.S. recycling rate currently sits at 34.6% of total waste. This may seem acceptable, but much of the remaining recyclable material was being shipped to China – out of sight, out of mind.

Until January 2018. That’s when China began enforcing its “National Sword” policy that banned 24 types of solid waste, including plastics and unsorted mixed paper. It also set the contamination limits on what it would accept at 0.5%, which the U.S. is finding nearly impossible to meet, since many Americans think unwashed cans and bottles and greasy pizza boxes can be recycled (they can’t).

As a consequence, much of that recycling environmentally-minded people lug out to the curb is being incinerated or going to landfills – eating up precious landfill capacity that wasn’t in the original plans.

As it stands, by 2021 the U.S. will have only 15 years of landfill capacity left. In densely populated regions like the Northeast, capacity could max out in half of that time.

To compound the complexity of this issue, add a significant portion of the 2 billion cubic yards of legacy coal ash, now determined to be waste, looking for a home. It breaks the bank!

There is movement afoot. Residents of Deschutes County in Oregon want a new landfill, according to a recent survey. They looked at the cost increases of SEBY and decided it made more sense economically to take care of their own trash. So, before folks shut down their community landfill and assume their trash will be trucked to somebody else’s back yard without consequences of some kind, they should do their utmost to maximize what they have. The technology is out there. It just takes open minds willing to consider all the options.

Innovative Thinking

Innovation is not an abstract concept, but a desirable mindset.

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Thinking outside the box,” but how willing are you to put aside all your preconceived notions and actually do it?

True innovators make it habit. Their typical modus operandi is to view problems from every angle and brainstorm until they come up with a variety of creative solutions. They try until they hit on the combination that works best.

The methodology is in the definition of innovation provided by Oxford Dictionaries if you search online…

You get the picture. Granted, not everyone is cut out to be an innovative thinker, but it’s vital to have at least one on your solution team.

Incremental Innovation is Good, Too

Innovation doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. In fact, incremental innovation is most common; it builds on something that already exists.

safeBERM® technology is an example of incremental innovation. The methodology is leading-edge, but based on a solid foundation of simple, tried-and-true engineering principles.

Here are some recent scenarios with innovative responses to traditional dilemmas …

After two hours of evaluating a vendor’s recommendations for proper legacy CCR disposition, a utility’s conclusion was, “We don’t need to expand our on-site CCR landfill since we’ll most likely be converting our boilers to natural gas and won’t need the additional airspace.”

An innovative vendor’s response would be: “That’s the best news I’ve heard today. What you’re telling me is that there will be a larger footprint available on-site for proper legacy CCR disposition, so we don’t have to haul the CCR anywhere else. This is will save you time and money. It’s great!”

&

A local landfill owner worried, “We’ve having more hurricanes and flooding than we’ve ever seen before, and now we have big concerns about how protected our landfill is against these events. Is there any way we can expand it AND address the risks?”

An innovator’s response: “We build you a safeBERM® that not only increases capacity, but also uses its bidirectional hydrostatic barrier properties to safeguard the surrounding environment against flooding and hurricanes.”

&

A CCR “expert” expresses doubts about having enough beneficial use opportunities available to handle millions of tons of legacy CCR.

An innovator’s response: “Why stop at just one solution? Find more. How about landfills that need expansion? You can establish public-private-partnerships that can effectively handle CCR disposition while extending landfills’ useful lives. Those opportunities are out there. You just need to be open to finding them.

Everyone has a role to play in our environment. We’ve defined our role with our array of solutions. Have you?

CCR Innovation Series: Part 3 of 3

It takes a village to solve the looming CCR storage issue.

In all discussions of coal ash disposition — either through beneficial reuse or keeping it intact but contained — the overriding concern is safety.

The cap-in-place solution has been solidly debunked from a safety standpoint. The market for beneficial use of coal ash in building products still lags far behind the over-abundance of legacy CCR. Yes, the market may eventually catch up, but leaving toxic CCR in the ground indefinitely while it waits for a new home isn’t an option.

Government regulations have necessitated more rapid and safe disposition, raising these questions for stakeholders:

  • What method to use?
  • How long will it take to implement?
  • What will it cost?

New regulations in Virginia and North Carolina, and pending legislation in Illinois, are harbingers of what’s to come as utilities find themselves compelled by law to find innovative ways to dispose of their legacy CCR. Drying and excavation is a monumental challenge, but the challenge doesn’t stop there. Excavation results in large stockpiles that need to be properly stored. Indecision over how to proceed, or an inability to pick a middle path for all stakeholders, only compounds the problem.

When engineers in ancient Egypt cut and laid the first limestone block, they probably wondered if and when their project would ever end. But that didn’t stop them from marshalling their forces to stack block upon block for years until they finally had a pyramid.

Similarly, it’s the duty of all stakeholders in the CCR dilemma to rise up and conquer the challenges they face today, one site at a time, until no CCR is left behind.

If we take inspiration from the famous Nike slogan, “JUST DO IT,” resolutions to the most vexing problems become fairly straightforward:

“The impounded coal ash is too close to a waterway.” — MOVE IT.

“We don’t have enough land to store the impounded coal ash.” — FIND WAYS TO MAXIMIZE IT.

“We can’t beneficiate all the ash within the 15-year deadline.” — SAFELY STORE IT.

“Our on-site landfill is susceptible to hurricanes and flooding.” — SHORE IT UP.

“There’s no one solution that fits all.” — SO TACKLE IT WITH MULTIPLE SOLUTIONS.

“We don’t want to burden our ratepayers.” — FIND WAYS TO FIX IT THAT PROVIDE THE MOST BANG FOR THE BUCK.

“It costs too much to safely store this much coal ash.” — SHOW US WHY IT DOES.

Utilities have typically been less than transparent in divulging their methods and costs. Ironically, this has forced environmentalists and affected citizens to become much better educated and organized, making them potent potential allies equipped to bring new ideas to the table.

Now’s the time for everyone to come together, think together, and determine best practices for dealing with CCR in their communities. Whether it’s safe storage now to become inventory for future beneficial use, permanent on-site disposition or relocation, the answers are out there. It takes a village to find them.

CCR Innovation Series: Part 2 of 3

Maximize Innovation Before Resorting to Traditional Methods

In 2008, the Tennessee Valley Authority’s dike containing its coal ash failed, allowing approximately 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash to spread over 300 acres and into the Emory River. Since then, the problem that coal ash represents for the U.S. has only gotten worse. Constant battles between federal and state governments, regulatory agencies, environmental groups, courts, vendors and the general public represent the inability of these stakeholders to understand how monumental this situation has become.

Since that devastating TVA spill brought the situation to front pages everywhere and other localities have dealt with their own coal ash disasters, several facts have been proven:

  • CCR is a waste containing arsenic, mercury, lead and other toxic substances. It may not be officially classified as hazardous waste, but it is hazardous to the environment. That’s not something Washington, D.C., can change through legislation.
  • Liquifying and pumping wet coal ash into unlined containment ponds may not pollute the air, but the moisture facilitates toxins leaching into surrounding soil and groundwater.
  • Capping ponds in place is not an option if the coal ash will remain in contact with soil, which is usually the case.
  • Drying and excavating coal ash ponds generates tremendous volumes of coal ash requiring proper deposition.
  • Any disposition strategy must address these questions: how to dispose, where to dispose, and for how long?
  • The longer the distance coal ash must be transported by road, rail or barge for off-site disposition, the greater the likelihood that it will disrupt and impede regular traffic or have a spill that creates another environmental mess to clean up.

We’re already developed various methods to tackle this challenge.

INNOVATIVE ON-SITE USES:

Microencapsulation involves recycling coal ash into other products, such as brick, block and cement. When coal ash becomes physically bonded to other ingredients, it’s rendered inert and harmless. This solution is limited only by market demand for building materials. Developing other uses for coal ash in other industries could only help to use up the existing stockpile.

Macroencapsulation offers several approaches and solutions. When coal ash is transferred on-site to a fully lined landfill, that land can be reclaimed for solar farms or sports parks that entire communities can enjoy. Another on-site option is using the coal ash as fill to create new solid waste landfills, helping communities achieve more capacity for household waste disposal by re-purposing land that’s already otherwise unusable.

INNOVATIVE OFF-SITE USES:

Macroencapsulation becomes a highly versatile solution when coal ash can be transported off-site to be used as fully encapsulated fill for solar farms, berms or other structures. Also, it can become fill around existing solid waste landfills to increase their airspace and extend their useful lives. However, the coal ash must be transported with the same risks as mentioned above, not to mention the added expense.

TRADITIONAL OFF-SITE USE:

Disposal is the last resort if all these other methods don’t pan out, with the coal ash ending up in a subtitle D compliant landfill.

Until the country weans itself completely from fossil fuel energy, coal ash will continue to be generated and legacy coal ash needs to be beneficially reused or stored properly. Now is the time to figure out the best ways to dig ourselves out from under the 500 to 600 million tons of legacy coal ash we’ve already created while building up capacity and infrastructure to implement innovative solutions for the future.

Our ultimate goal should be no coal ash left behind. Every existing pond needs to have a plan in place for its productive disposition.