The United States does not need any new commercial hazardous waste incinerators, and will not need any well into the 1990s, according to a new study by a private firm (ICF, Inc., of Fairfax, VA), prepared under contract to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
For the study, ICF collected information from 14 hazardous waste companies (listed below) which, together, operate 83 facilities that handle at least 70% of the commercial waste processed each year in the U.S. The 14 firms said there already exists, or by 1991 will exist, excess commercial incineration capacity.
The 14 companies said they had doubled their own incineration capacity between 1985 and 1987 (from 349,800 wet tons per year to 694,100 wet tons). Even greater capacity increases (doubling or tripling present capacity) is already on the drawing boards for the period 1988 to 1991, the survey found.
In addition, the survey identified a trend: large generators of hazardous wastes are changing to on-site incineration and to on-site waste minimization techniques. More than 90% of hazardous wastes have traditionally been dumped into lagoons and ponds on-site, but new regulations that took effect this year require that lagoons and ponds to be lined with impermeable liners--often an expensive (or impossible) proposition. The survey concluded that the future of ponds and lagoons is "bleak."
On-site management of wastes is obviously preferable to sending wastes offsite because the waste generator can control where the wastes go (thus minimizing liability), and wastes managed on-site are easier to protect from the prying eyes of the public and of regulators. Waste sent off-site to commercial facilities must be "manifested" (accompanied by a paper trail showing who sent how much of what where).
The survey revealed many interesting facts about the hazardous waste industry. For example, treatment and disposal facilities operated by the 14 companies received 5.1 million wet tons of wastes in 1987. Of this, 476,000 wet tons was incinerated in 1987 (up 36% from the previous year). The amount landfilled was 2.6 million wet tons, up 5% from 1986.
The 14 firms surveyed were: Chemical Waste Management, Inc. of Oak Brook, IL; Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI)/CECOS International, Inc. (Houston, TX); ChemClear, Inc. of Wayne, PA; Envirite Corp. of Plymouth Meeting, PA; Environmental Services Co. (ENSCO) of Little Rock, AR; Environmental Waste Services of Waterbury, CT; Envirosafe Services of King of Prussia, PA); GSX Corp. of Columbia, SC; Rollins Environmental Services of Wilmington, DE; Ross Incineration Services of Grafton, OH; Safety-Kleen Corp. of Elgin, IL; Systech Corp. of Xenia, OH; U.S. Pollution Control, Inc. (USPCI), of Oklahoma City, OK; and W.J. Lambert/Chemical Resources, Inc., of Tulsa, OK.
The report, titled 1986-1987 SURVEY OF SELECTED FIRMS IN THE COMMERCIAL HAZARDOUS WASTE MANAGEMENT INDUSTRY is available for $30 from Geoffrey Black, ICF, 9300 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22031-1207; phone (703)-934-3304.