Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, Resource Recovery Facility

Posted on July 29, 2010

Client: Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority
Location: Lancaster, PA
Project Type: Resource Recovery Facility

Project Description


D&B Engineers and Architects, P.C. (“D&B”) prepared a Report examining the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority’s (“LCSWMA’s”) disposal operations and providing analyses and recommendations regarding the utilization and operating economics of the LCSWMA’s disposal facilities. The focus of the Report is on the future operation of the Lancaster County Resource Recovery Facility (“RRF”), including economic forecasts of (1) expanding the capacity of the Lancaster County RRF or (2) continuing the operation of the RRF with no capacity expansion. In order to prepare economic forecasts, D&B developed a Program Economic Model which simulates the economics of the operation of the RRF in the context of the LCSWMA’s other disposal facilities. The Model was utilized to evaluate the economics and operational aspects of a Base Case with no RRF expansion and a Scenario with RRF expansion.

Current Status of the Authority’s Solid Waste Facility Operations

The LCSWMA System includes the Transfer Station Complex, the RRF, the Frey Farms Landfill (“FFLF”), and the Household Hazardous Waste (“HHW”) Facility. A total of 606,214 tons of waste was processed or disposed of by the LCSWMA in 2008. The Authority disposed of 305,428 tons of refuse, 874 tons of non-processible waste, 1,552 tons of wood, 97,593 tons of construction and demolition wastes, 103,597 tons of residual wastes generated within Lancaster County, and 97,170 tons of residual wastes generated outside of the County; LCSWMA also provided for the transfer of 11,472 tons of recyclable materials to privately owned materials recovery facilities. All LCSWMA Facilities operate in full compliance with their State and Federal Permits.

The RRF has been in operation for seventeen (17) years. It has a nominal processing capacity of 1,200 tons per day. Waste is combusted in three (3), 400 ton per day mass burn units, each including a furnace and waste heat recovery sections and air pollution control equipment. During the past eleven (11) years, the RRF has processed an average of 370,000 tons of waste per year. The waste heat recovery units produce steam for conversion to electricity in the RRF’s thirty-six (36) megawatt steam turbine-generator. The residue produced as the byproduct of combustion is transferred to the FFLF, where it is used beneficially as alternate daily cover.

The Authority seeks to utilize the available capacity of the RRF to the maximum extent possible, minimize the consumption of remaining landfill space, and fulfill the goal of recovering energy from post-recycling waste. Aside from the benefits of producing electrical energy in an environmentally sound manner, the RRF reduces the volume of waste by ninety (90) percent, thus delaying the need for additional landfill cell construction. Currently, the RRF is operating at or near capacity, resulting in the landfilling of 10,000 to 30,000 tons per year of processible waste. If the capacity of the RRF remains unchanged, the amount of processible wastes which must be landfilled will increase as waste generation increases.

The FFLF is a double composite lined landfill with leachate collection and treatment. Construction of the first through fifth cells occurred from 1988 through 2003. As the quantity of post-recycling waste generation increases in the future, the quantities of waste disposed at the FFLF are likely to increase. At the end of 2008, the estimated remaining capacity of the FFLF was 4.29 million cubic yards. The final cell (#6), planned for construction in 2010, will give the FFLF capacity until approximately 2019. Additional landfill capacity is expected to be provided by the Creswell Re-Use Landfill. The preliminary design of the capacity of the Creswell Re-Use Landfill indicates that it will provide capacity for over fifty (50) years.

Waste Generation Forecast

A waste generation forecast was prepared in order to assess the quantities of waste requiring disposal. The forecast utilized projections of residential population and commercial development trends from the Lancaster County Planning Commission and the Pennsylvania State Data Center. Future per capita waste generation rates were projected by reviewing Lancaster County residential and commercial waste generation for the period from 2003 through 2007. Information on future waste generation trends, from sources, such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”), was utilized to assess the potential for future per capita generation rates. The population and per capita waste generation projections were combined in order to estimate future waste generation in Lancaster County.

Current Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste Program

Lancaster County’s recycling and household hazardous waste management program has been successful in attaining significant reductions in the amount of wastes disposed at the RRF and the FFLF, and in reducing the content of hazardous household products in the wastestream. The current status of the municipal recycling programs and the LCSWMA’s household hazardous waste program were evaluated to identify the actions necessary to expand these programs while remaining consistent with the County’s integrated waste management philosophy. Expansion of recycling efforts in “non-mandated” municipalities was identified as the primary means to increase recycling rates in Lancaster County. Further, the addition of corrugated cardboard, junk mail, and magazines to programs where these items are not currently collected would add to recycling rates.

Resource Recovery Facility Expansion Analysis

In order to evaluate the appropriateness of expanding the RRF, the potential benefits associated with conserving landfill space, and the economic feasibility of the expansion, two (2) alternatives were evaluated and compared – (1) a Base Case in which the RRF would not be expanded and (2) Scenario 1 in which the RRF would be expanded by adding a 600 ton per day municipal waste combustion unit. The potential expansion would increase the capacity of the RRF from a nominal processing rate of 1,200 tons per day to a rate of 1,800 tons per day. The work required for the expansion and its costs were estimated using information from RRF expansion projects in Lee County and in Hillsborough County, Florida. The work carried out for those projects and the construction costs were reviewed and adjusted as necessary to match the conditions at the LCSWMA RRF, to account for anticipated Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“PaDEP”) and USEPA permitting requirements, and to account for inflation of construction costs up to the projected construction date.

The estimated construction cost for the expansion, developed based upon the approach described above, and inflated to the year 2014, was $166.8 million.

Program Economic Model

A Microsoft-Excel based Program Economic Model was developed in order to model LCSWMA expenses and revenues associated with the past, current, and projected future operations of the RRF. The Model was varied to incorporate the Base Case representing continued future operation of the RRF with no capacity expansion, and the Scenario 1 Case in which the RRF is expanded. The model also includes a calculation of required landfill capacity, which takes into account the impact of RRF operations on the quantities of materials which are required to be landfilled. The model therefore projects annual operating expenses and annual operating revenues associated with the operation of the RRF and the impact of the RRF operation on the Authority’s landfill space requirements.

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