Support Expressed at Entsorga Hearing

Journal News

SPRING MILLS - All Entsorga West Virginia LLC can do now is wait following a public hearing Monday evening for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to decide on the final piece of the project before construction.

The WVDEP hosted a public hearing at Spring Mills High School to gather final comments on Entsorga constructing a $19 million facility that will accept and process solid waste primarily from Berkeley, Jefferson, Morgan and Hampshire counties.

The hearing was to aid the WVDEP in determining whether to issue a permit that will allow Entsorga to be a Class B facility that can accept up to 500 tons of solid waste daily and 9,999 tons per month. Between 80 and 100 percent of the solid waste processed through the facility will be from West Virginia.

The plant will practice a zero-waste concept that dictates that 90 percent of the waste entering the facility will not be transported to a landfill, but instead used for energy. The plant will also utilize a technology known as high-efficiency biological treatment, HeBIOT, that organizes incoming waste without the need for employees to sort the waste by hand.

The waste to be used for fuel would be dried out and shredded into a loose, confetti-like material. Entsorga will sell the material to Essroc, which can co-burn it with coal and reduce emissions. The process also has an additional step that will screen for common recyclablewhich will be transported to a local recycling center.

While no one from the public commented on the project during the meeting, many parties who have been involved in bringing Entsorga to the county reiterated their support.

Clint Hogbin, chairman for the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority, spoke in favor of the project during the hearing, stating that the impact the facility will have on the county, and the state, will be groundbreaking.

"Entsorga, to us, is a state of the art, world class resource recovery facility. It is expected to fundamentally change the way we think about solid waste management in the Eastern Panhandle. Our traditional recycling levels are expected to roughly double. The amount of waste that our region landfills is expected to be reduced by more than 65 percent," Hogbin said.

Hogbin said the new facility will propel the area and the state toward a "zero waste" policy, which he described as maximizing the amount of material that can be used for something other than landfilling.

"For the most part, zero waste initiatives in West Virginia don't exist. We will be the first. With the issuance of this permit, West Virginia will take its first step toward zero waste. We actually tonight are making the beginning of the end of landfilling as the predominant method of handling waste in the Eastern Panhandle," Hogbin said.

Tony Petrucci, Berkeley County Council member and board liaison to the BCSWA, also spoke during the public hearing, expressing the council's support for the project and presenting a resolution in favor of the facility, unanimously passed and signed at a recent council meeting.

Emily Dyson, representing Entsorga, said the scope of the facility coming to the county is not pilot-sized but proven technology that is "far more environmentally conscientious than traditional landfilling."

"Entsorga West Virginia sees this as a true opportunity to work with Berkeley County to achieve that zero-waste and that the Eastern Panhandle deserves to say that they are the first to do that (in West Virginia)," she said.

"This (public hearing) is the last hurdle. This is the home stretch. This is what we've been holding our breath for. This has been three years in the making," Dyson said, adding that construction on the facility will begin as soon as the permit is issued.

The WVDEP does not have a deadline to make its decision.

The public can still submit written comments to the WVDEP until Sept. 4. Letters of support or protest can be sent to Dawn Jones at DEP Division of Water and Waste Management, 601 57th Street SE, Charleston, WV 25304.

-Staff writer Samantha Cronk can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 132, or http://twitter.com/scronkJN.

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