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Innovative W.Va. waste facility gets tentative OK

MARTINSBURG -- A Public Service Commission administrative law judge has signed off on a proposed $19 million mechanical-biological solid waste facility in Berkeley County that would produce a solid fuel from trash.

In an order filed Monday, Administrative Law Judge Meyishi Pearl Blair said the facility proposed by Entsorga West Virginia LLC is innovative and unique.

The facility would screen trash with a large rotary drum that would tear open trash bags to aerate the garbage. Rapid composting would be caused by an air circulation system. Moisture in the waste would be reduced by a combination of fresh and recirculated warm air. The result would be a dry paper-like product, according to Entsorga's application, which was filed with the PSC in 2012.

"The proposed plant and technology will be introduced for the first time to the United States with the building of the Entsorga plant in the Martinsburg, West Virginia area. The lifespan of the proposed facility will far exceed the lifespan of a traditional disposal facility, such as a landfill, since the facility will not landfill any of the [municipal solid waste],'' Blair wrote.

Entsorga also is seeking a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection to receive up to 7,333 tons of solid waste a month at the plant. Blair said this level appears reasonable, noting that the area's waste stream is expected to grow by about 21 percent between 2015 and 2035.

Her recommendation that the PSC grant the facility a certificate of need will become the commission's final decision if no exceptions are filed within 15 days.

Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority chairman Clint Hogbin told media outlets that the county began exploring alternatives to landfills about six years ago. He said Blair's order is a signal that the Eastern Panhandle's dependence on landfills as a primary disposal source is ending.

"This is a dynamic change in solid waste management,'' Hogbin said.


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