Mayor Loretta Spencer

Honorable Mention
The City of Huntsville and Ogden Corporation Waste-to-Energy Facility Project

Two significant challenges confronted the Huntsville area in the 1980s: First, how to provide a burgeoning population with an adequate, environmentally safe waste disposal facility; second, how to provide a reliable source of steam to the community's largest employer, the U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal

Recognizing an opportunity to meet these two challenges by consolidating them, the City of Huntsville elected to construct a waste-to-energy facility which would provide steam to Redstone Arsenal. To accomplish this, the City formed the Solid Waste Disposal Authority (SWDA), a non-profit, public corporation vested with the responsibilities of constructing, financing and managing the community's waste disposal facilities. In a competitively negotiated procurement process, SWDA selected Ogden Martin Systems of Huntsville (OMSH), a subsidiary of the Ogden Corporation, to design, construct, and operate the facility.

The Huntsville facility, on line since 1990, currently handles approximately 600 tons . essentially all . of the municipal, residential and commercial solid waste generated daily in the City and in Madison County. Included in this tonnage is the City's dried sewage sludge. Steam produced by the plant's combustion process is sold to the nearby U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal where it is used for heating and air conditioning. The methane gas captured at the City's landfill is piped into the plant for use as a supplemental fuel. State-of-the-art pollution control equipment continuously monitors plant operations.

This is the first facility of its kind in the State of Alabama . one of only 112 nationwide . and represents the cornerstone of the Huntsville community's integrated waste management system. It also represents an opportunity for greater community involvement by Ogden Martin Systems of Huntsville. Each year, over 3,500 school children and members of civic organizations and professional groups enjoy guided tours through the plant. OMSH also conducts an educational outreach program for the 2,500 fifth-grade students in the Huntsville school system's EarthScope program.

In summary, the partnership between SWDA and OMSH has resulted in:

  • a 90 percent reduction in the waste stream, extending the landfill's life for years to come and saving the City millions of dollars in disposal costs;
  • steam energy supplied to Redstone Arsenal, eliminating the need for a new steam system at the Arsenal and producing an energy savings equivalent to 150,000 barrels of oil annually;
  • destruction of odorous methane gas from the City's landfill;
  • environmentally safe disposal of sewage sludge from Huntsville's wastewater treatment plants;
  • revenues from tipping fees and sale of the steam;
  • employment of more than 60 people from the community; and
  • environmental education for thousands of people.

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