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Wednesday, January 1, 2014 (New Year's Day):
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On May 22, 2000, the Resource Recovery Facility was given the "Waste-to-Energy Facility of the Year" award by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Solid Waste Processing Division.
The Montgomery County solid waste plan calls for a comprehensive, integrated approach to managing the County's waste. This strategy gives the County control of its own destiny without relying on the uncertainties accompanying a single disposal method.
The Montgomery County Resource Recovery Facility (RRF) is located approximately 45 miles from our nation's capital in Dickerson, Maryland.
Waste-to-energy is a logical part of the solution, because it is the most cost-effective, environmentally-sound solution over the long term. The Montgomery County RRF is a major component of the Integrated Waste Management plan.
A key component in an integrated solid waste management system, waste-to-energy is a process which combusts waste at extremely high temperatures, and converts the stored internal energy of waste into usable energy, such as steam or electricity. Montgomery County's facility typically operates at temperatures above 2000°F, thereby destroying pathogens, bacteria and toxins. It reduces the volume of waste approximately 90 percent. Electricity generated is sold to offset the costs of operation.
Ferrous, or magnetic material, is unchanged as it goes through the combustion units. It is removed from the ash by powerful magnetic separation, and is sold as scrap metal. Revenues from the scrap metal offset plant operating expenses, but the cash flow is not always positive due to the cost of transporting the material.
The ash is further processed at another facility to remove more metal and produce a dirt substitute and road base aggregate substitute.
The Facility is owned by the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority on behalf of the County. Covanta Montgomery, Inc. operates the facility under a 20-year Service Agreement. Waste is collected and taken to our Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station in Derwood.
By generating power for use by homes and businesses, waste-to-energy facilities offset the burning of fossil fuels, as well as emissions from coal and oil fired utilities. In fact, combusting 1,000 tons of solid waste saves the burning of about 1,600 barrels of oil or 500 tons of coal. And, while much of the oil Americans use is imported, solid waste is an inexhaustible alternative "domestic fuel."
State-of-the-art emissions control technology cleanses combustion gasses before they are vented into the atmosphere. At the Montgomery County RRF, continuous monitoring systems constantly analyze critical emissions, and send instructions to plant controls to make corrective adjustments enabling operators to ensure compliance with strict federal and state environmental regulations.
In sizing its waste-to-energy facility, a community typically determines not only the amount of garbage it produces, but the amount of materials diverted for recycling. The waste-to-energy facility is then designed to process current volumes as well as predicted amounts of the materials that remain in the waste stream after recyclables have been removed.
Because waste-to-energy facilities produce power, energy sales help offset operations and maintenance expenses, as well as construction costs. And, since most associated expenses are fixed, a waste-to-energy facility promotes long term stabilization of waste disposal costs and facilititates more accurate financial planning for the future. Waste-to-energy also enables a community to use their landfills 10 times longer. Purchasing massive amounts of land for new landfills can then be done less frequently and planned over longer time periods. With proper maintenance, repairs, and replacements, a well-run waste-to-energy facility should last indefinitely.