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Read more on the design-build and solid waste industries from articles on Cambridge Companies, our design-build experience and our expertise on new builds, repairs, renovations, upgrades, expansions and modifications on solid waste facilities.
Minimizing Impacts from Transfer Stations and MRF Operations
Waste Advantage Magazine│ May 2019
Transfer stations and material recovery facilities (MRFs) serve important functions to the greater community. They serve as a means to more efficiently transport municipal solid waste (MSW) for disposal and recover materials for recycling to minimize what is sent to the landfill. From a high level, they exist as purely positive forces with important functions. Why then, are they relegated to the far corners of industrial parks or adjacent to closed landfills? This issue relates to the complexities of managing the potentially negative impacts these facilities can have on their neighbors and the community as a whole. By better understanding the impacts your facility can have on the larger community you can better address them or use education to build a greater understanding and appreciation for the realities of your business. The impacts can be grouped into several categories: Vectors, Odors and Dust, Wind-Blown Debris, Environmental Concerns, and Traffic.
Any facility that receives solid waste, single stream recyclables or source separated material has an issue with vectors in one way or another. Vectors as a term covers nuisance animals that can carry disease. For solid waste facilities, this mostly deals with mice, rats and birds. There are several operational best practices to help minimize these populations. For the mice and rats, keeping the floor clean is important. In addition, designing a facility with minimal space to create homes can help stop a colony from getting a foothold. As a best-practice, a local pest control company may be engaged to set up bait block stations to keep the population of these low. Birds, on the other hand, can pose a difficult challenge. The birds will often roost in the roof rafters, and their waste can become a large issue. There are several strategies that can be effective in dealing with this, depending on your building type and the type of bird you are attempting to discourage. Bird wire—a wire that is strung across tipping aprons and similar areas—discourages the birds from nesting in the areas it is strung. In addition, you can install bird netting on the inside of your building to keep the birds from roosting in your ceiling. Another approach that can be effective is using air noise makers to disturb the birds. You must take proactive action to keep these vectors under control, as their populations not only impact your facility, but also your neighbors who will also pay the price if you do not address this.
Odors and Dust
The issue with odor and dust in transfer stations and MRFs can be greatly minimized through smart facility planning, operations and a few remediative approaches. When you are designing a facility, it is important to site the primary tipping bay doors away from the prevailing winds. In addition, high-speed doors can be installed on all exterior doors. These approaches can minimize the magnitude of odors and fugitive dust that are carried offsite. In addition, there are several negative air systems that can pull in and treat the facility air before releasing it. These systems can help control dust and odor. Another effective solution for dust and odor control is the use of a misting system. These systems use water and can incorporate chemical odor neutralizers to create a very fine mist over the primary work areas. A benefit to the misting systems is that they can be easily retrofitted to existing facilities with minimal disruption and yield impressive results. For MRFs, a dust extraction system with pickup points at the main dust generations points can also prove very effective.
Evaluating the Challenges and Benefits of Constructing a Solidification Pit at your Landfill Facility
Waste Advantage Magazine│ April 2019
Liquid waste presents a unique challenge and opportunity for landfill operators. There are many factors that should be figured into the decision on whether to locate a liquid bulking (solidification) operation at your landfill facility. These factors an be grouped into four categories to form a decision matrix: business case, environmental considerations, future growth and operational considerations. By clearly understanding all the pros and cons to co-locating a solidification operation at your landfill facility, the decision will be best suited to serve business needs now and in the future.
The first step to determining the viability of moving forward is to confirm that it makes business sense. At this stage, an assessment of local needs should be completed to determine if there is a need/opportunity for this line of business. Once the projected volume of incoming materials (both liquid/wet waste and potential bulking/solidification agents) has been assembled, a gross estimate of projected revenue this operation could generate will be available. The incurred expenses can then be contrast through the design, permitting, construction and ongoing operating costs. If this exercise demonstrates there is a viable business case to be made, you can proceed to the next steps.
Liquid waste (fracking liquids, boring fluid, etc.) is not allowed in landfills in its original form, which presents very real challenges but also opportunities. Excess moisture is a common concern/issue in landfills, and most landfill compliance issues relate to excess moisture. To then introduce materials(s) that have a high liquid content runs counter to the goal of keeping the material dry. There are many liquids that cannot be processed at a private or municipal sanitary facility or cannot be processed in another cost-effective manner. That is where liquid bulking/solidification can perform an important service. For these liquids, bulking/solidification and landfilling may be the best option from an economic standpoint if the processes can be performed in an environmentally responsible manner. (Author’s note: the term “bulking” means absorbing liquids with a dry solid; those liquids will likely release from the mix once compressed. The term “solidification” is the addition of
dry material where the liquids become bound to the material/reagent and will release little, or no liquids once compressed.)
Testing will need to be completed before liquid/wet wastes are approved for acceptance, solidification and disposal. Typically, liquid/wet wastes are reviewed for hazardous/non-hazardous categorization or other factors that would make it undesirable for disposal, such as high oil, salt or other constituents that could affect the biological environment within the landfill, significant odor potential or other similar factors. Once the liquid/wet waste material is deemed acceptable, test mixes are prepared (either in a lab or in the field) to see what ratios of admixtures/reagents can be used to make an appropriate mix for disposal. Consideration must be given to resulting moisture content (Are there no free liquids? Can the material be placed and compacted sufficiently?), short- and long-term liquids release (will the mix give up liquids once placed and surcharged by other wastes?), stability of the solidified materials (are they as strong as the rest of the landfill or will they provide weaker areas/slip planes that could cause failure?) and resulting recipe/solidification costs. Reagent/solidification agent costs directly affect the profitability/success of the operation as do mixing efforts and transportation of the blended materials to the landfill disposal location.
Making Sure Your Facility is Properly Equipped for CNG Conversion
Waste Advantage Magazine│ February 2019
Converting a fleet to compressed natural gas (CNG) can make a lot of sense to reduce fuel costs. Typical considerations toward making this decision include the cost of the new vehicles as well as the fueling infrastructure. An often-overlooked component, that is essential for a fleet CNG conversion, is the cost to modify the existing shop facility to ensure those new vehicles can be serviced in a safe and code compliant environment. It is essential to understand the activities that occur in the shop as they have a direct impact on the CNG retrofit building modifications.
Existing Shop Typical Improvements
As the existing shop is assessed, the first question should be about what might be required for it to be CNG compliant. While a qualified engineer or specialty consultant should be engaged to perform the detailed analysis and scoping, there are several elements that will likely need to be provided, as well as several items to avoid.
The existing ventilation system will likely need to be upgraded to afford more air changes per hour. The shop (if it is heated) is likely heated with a gas-fired unit or radiant tube heaters. These are typically not compatible with a CNG shop and will need replacement.
The height of the shop has a direct impact on the ventilation requirements. If the shop is shorter than 20′-0″, it may not be entirely viable for a CNG retrofit.
It is likely that the existing facility does not have a gas detection system. One may be required by the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).
The walls that separate the shop from the administration offices will be required to be two-hour rated for a CNG Shop. If the current walls are not rated, upgrading these can be costly and disruptive to operations.
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Have you ever wondered how something as small as a leftover food we discard can fuel different parts of the world? Take a look at this video from BP about how a simple banana peel can be turned into jet fuel!