Clearing the Air

Aug. 23, 2013

The industry has to look closely at waste and its byproducts…and the issues they create. The biggest issue is an increased awareness of dust and odor, believes Dana Pack, marketing, Fogco Systems Inc. Complaints from an encroaching urban population have resulted in mandates to control the problems, although increased urban renewal is also to blame. More transfer stations are appearing in urban locations because there’s more garbage to handle and the cost to process it increases the farther it goes. He references four large new or remodeled transfer stations in New York City alone. Proximity is resulting in demands for improvement in the ways dust and odor are managed.

Tall, Cool Drink of Water
Department of Environmental Protection regulations inspired changes in the way dust control is handled at the Raleigh County Landfill in Beckley, WV. Serving four counties (Raleigh, Fayette, Summers, and Wyoming), the 680-acre site in a mountainous region of the state, where coal mines are in abundance, accepts an average of 600 tons of garbage each day. The 1-mile haul road from the scale house to the dump is paved only half the way.

Crews were using a 2,000-gallon truck to spray the road, but couldn’t get the road wet enough to stop the dust, according to George Bragg. The gravity spray produced only a small sprinkle. “It helped some, but not enough.”

In order to get the job done and meet regulations, Bragg turned to Finn Corp. in Fairfield, OH. A Finn T330 HydroSeeder with full flushers and an overcab fire nozzle, mounted on truck, did the trick. A remote-control cannon also tackles fire issues arising from the mulch piles. “We grind up wood products for mulch,” he explains. “The piles can spontaneously combust [if not wetted down].”

During cell construction, or when 63-ton trucks are hauling debris, the HydroSeeder can be adapted to water the road by attaching a sprayer bar on the back and placing nozzles on the front and sides. Water is taken from three sediment ponds. “During summer cell construction, we have a guy in the truck all day,” Bragg says.

When not needed for watering duty, it is used for hydroseeding, per DEP regulation. “We hydroseed the outside slope,” Bragg explains. “If we’re not on the site 30 days, we cover with 18 inches of soil and stabilize.” The landfill seeds 15-20 acres per year, but the fact that “companies never come when you’re ready, and if it rains before they do, it erodes” was justification for buying its own equipment. “It’s cheaper and more reliable.”

The facility has had the HydroSeeder for four summers. “It’s very reliable,” Bragg indicates. landfill crews do all their own maintenance. In those four years, all they’ve had to do to it is adjust the clutch on the pump once, and regular grease, oil, and filter changes. “That’s it.”

Shell Casings
In Modoc, IN, Dennis Sullivan, heavy-equipment operator at Randolph Farms Landfill, handles dust issues differently. The water tank he uses is a Finn T400 HydroSeeder, but he doesn’t hydroseed at all. Instead, he uses it to apply Posi-Shell ADC for daily cover and Posi-Shell Clear for haul roads, both from LSC Environmental Products LLC, in Apalachin, NY.

Serving five Indiana counties and parts of Ohio, including transfer stations in Muncie and Anderson (Indiana), the 150-acre landfill sees 40 semitrucks and trash trucks a day. Daily tonnage at the landfill averages 1,400 tons.

Dust is a serious problem at landfills. Options include keeping it wet or using products to create a crust. Before discovering Posi-shell, Sullivan says he used a fresh water product in a 400-gallon tank on a haul truck to spray the road. “It worked for a couple hours, but we had to water twice a day. We have a lot of traffic.”

Posi-Shell Clear was created specifically for dust control. The polymer-based product is a dry powder that is mixed and sprayed by a water truck or seeding unit. Instead of spraying onto the top of the ground like other products, it penetrates the surface and bonds, creating a wind-resistant layer. The cellulosic polymer is 100% biodegradable and non-toxic.

The gelatin in Posi-shell bonds with the dust, so it holds longer. Haul roads remain moist longer than if treated with just water. “When we rewet with water, it reactivates for extended use,” Sullivan adds. “We could even apply it weekly to save money. It’s expensive, so we try to be frugal.”

They spread the mixture with a water tanker, using a spray bar with nozzles. “It takes less time to spray roads.” In addition to treating the half-mile road from the scale house to the dump, crews used the water truck to pack the dirt for a new liner when they built a new six-acre cell. Because it has a stainless-steel body, it’s capable of multitasking. “It’s a no-brainer.”

Play Misty for Me
Organizations need to meet regulations and provide solutions to the community, Fogco’s Pack states, but the solution must be engineered to the problem. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach; you must design for the -application.” The first question: Is it both dust and odor or just odor control? The customer defines the problem. Some types of waste create only dust; others create more odor.

For dust suppression-not elimination-Fogco is the exclusive North, Central, and South American distributor for Spraystream, a system that produces high-pressure atomized water to create fog. It works by producing fine droplets of water that correspond with the same particle size of dust. Dust particles are absorbed by 10-micron fog droplets and fall to the ground.

The size variance of dust particles matches the variance of water particle size. “The smaller the droplets, the better binding you get,” Pack says. However, the system can be calibrated by using different sizes of nozzles. “It depends on the source of dust and the type of problem.”

Fogco’s fog cannon, a large industrial version for dust suppression indoors and out, features a high-velocity fan that propels air in excess of 150 feet to create a plume of mist. Available in wall-mount units, portable cart configurations or a completely self-contained trailer unit that includes a gas-powered generator, 650-gallon water tank and drive pump, the canon adds versatility with an oscillating assembly that covers up to 270 degrees to extend the reach at landfills and other operations. “Customers tell us they can’t appreciate the volume and coverage by looking at pictures and video,” Pack says. “You have to see it in person.”

Projecting fog particles 180 feet, Spraystream minimizes the amount of wastewater because the atomized water evaporates quickly. Another advantage is that it serves a dual purpose. “You can use the same system for odor control by injecting neutralizer in the fog.”

Other advantages include fan blades that run at a lower rpm-1,450 or 1,750 versus 3,000-for quieter and cooler application; units that include medium- and high-pressure water pumps; and soft starters. “Because of the high horsepower needed, a soft starter allows the motor to start at a slower speed and lower torque,” Pack explains.

The system weighs less than others, saving on freight and mounting specifications. Contributing to the weight savings is the fact that the cones are composite, as opposed to painted steel. Because of that material choice, there are no rust or corrosion concerns. All metal components are welded and galvanized.

The industry faces a continual escalation of regulations, Pack believes. “Ordinances will increase the need for dust and odor solutions.” Developing and engineering proprietary items that fit the market will become critical for manufacturers.

Get a Whiff of This
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then it’s no secret where odor registers, with equally subjective judgment. Because odor molecules attach to proteins in our olfactory sensory receptors in the temporal lobe, the location of memory, odor triggers an emotional response based on remembrance.

Less fleeting than beauty, odor-and the memories it inspires-can easily offend. Masking agents do little to eliminate the problem.

Controlling odor can be one of the most challenging problems faced by professionals in the waste handling industry, particularly when contentious neighbors complain. Increased awareness and closer proximity have raised odor from an annoyance to a perceived health hazard. Community concerns have led to regulatory action.

Odor is affected by the quantity, type and condition of solid waste received at a facility, as well as the gas collection and control system used. Different types of waste generate assorted odors. Wastewater sludge usually creates sulfide compounds. Composting and co-composting facilities typically emit nitrogenous compound odors. Municipal solid waste landfills generate mercaptans. Whatever the odor or its source, agitation intensifies the smell.

Although dust and odors are an inherent reality at landfills, The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency implemented rules that require operators to strictly manage and control them in order to prevent a nuisance or health hazard. But how much is too much? “It’s difficult to regulate odor because it’s arbitrary; it’s subjective,” notes Linda Oros, environmental public information officer.

Odor is a side issue with landfills, she acknowledges, adding that complaints have increased at certain facilities due to chemical reactions. “Some need to upgrade their gas extraction system. The system doesn’t keep up with the pace as the facility expands, causing odor issues. It’s becoming a trend: facilities expand too quickly to manage odor.”

Recognizing a need for consistency in their approach in dealing with odor issues, the Ohio EPA is considering odor training for inspectors, Oros says. Guidance for inspectors currently exists in the form of an odor intensity scale from 0 to 4, where 0 is no detectable odor and 4 is overpowering, intolerable odor.

The internal operating procedure for investigating odor complaints at landfills and other waste facilities will include response tools such as complaint logs, citizen questionnaires, and investigatory reports, as well as option for conducting surveillance, citing violations, and issuing warning letters.

Transferring Odor
Liberty Roll-off, a private transfer station within Brunswick, GA, city limits, was receiving odor complaints from close neighbors-until, that is, it bought a stationary high-pressure atomizing odor control system from NCM Odor Control in Malibu, CA. The unit is installed around the perimeter of the facility to act as a curtain, knocking down any odor trying to leave the site.

Receiving 175-225 tons of residential and commercial waste a day from both public and private haulers (predominantly Republic), the 10,000-square-foot facility struggled with odor control when temperatures reached 100 degrees for months. “Heat contributes to odor,” states Devant Wainwright, corporate manager. “We were at 100-plus degrees much of this summer.

“Mondays were bad days,” he continues. “We tried to make sure 90% [of the waste] was gone, so we’d close early. In the summer, all you can do is get out as fast as you can, but the odor stays. Our permit says “˜make the neighbors happy.'”

Commercial waste is the biggest problem, he says. “Residential is not really an issue.” Because the trucks are rolloffs, the drivers carry it on their shoes. “Then the truck smells.” The transfer station had been offering them small sprayers and samples of a product from NCM to kill the odor. “We knew the product was good, but we weren’t sure about the system,” Wainwright recalls. “We thought it was snake oil, but it really works. We got the misting system in July and it made all the difference in the world. This is immediate. On a bad day we turned on the system, and in 10 minutes the odor was gone. You can’t smell it while loading.”

Applied as an atomized spray to the odor, the products react to alter the odor molecules, rendering them odorless and imperceptible. Using city water and NCM’s deodorizer, the solution is pre-mixed to specified settings.

The system was customized to Liberty’s site and installed when the facility was closed. NCM staff made several visits prior to installation to determine the needs, and has returned a few times for training and to check up. “It’s easy to operate and calibrate,” Wainwright says. It’s also inexpensive, he adds. “We’re still on our first drum.”

“[Wainwright] uses this system in coordination with our -biodegradable odor control neutralizer,” says Jesse Levin, area -president. “All of our products are made in our ISO 9000:1-certified manufacturing plant and come with toxicity reports. All products by law have to have an MSDS. Our goal was to show the quality difference in our products and that our products are tested using EPA guidelines. This ensures worker and public safety. Other odor control companies do not go to this length since the testing method to achieve a toxicity report is expensive. But our company looked

at it as an investment to assure companies like WM, Republic, and the municipalities that we work with that they are using the best products available.”

Wainwright is currently treating the air at two-hour intervals, but says he’s still testing the protocol by walking downwind. “Some put it on a timer. I’m hands-on; I don’t need a timer. My office is 220 feet from the building-I know when there’s a problem.”

In retrospect, he says, “We should have installed it sooner.”

Permitted Odor Control
Another southern facility impacted by heat is the municipal, parish-owned Tangipahoa Landfill in Independence, LA. “It’s hot, but humidity is the main contributor to odor,” surmises Terrence Stewart, sanitation landfill superintendent.

The landfill takes in about 500 tons per day, mostly in-parish waste, both residential and commercial. Before Hurricane Katrina, there were 80,000 residents in the parish, but since they are far enough from the Gulf not to take a direct hit, the population has increased to 180,000 in recent years. With more residents comes more garbage.

Two years ago, Stewart says the product they were using didn’t meet inspection. “It looked good when we sprayed, but the next day it disappeared.” Because of their permits from the Dept. of Environmental Qualities, he says the ongoing odor problem “could have cost me my job.”

An easy option would have been to cover with dirt, but, as Stewart explains, that would have reduced valuable airspace from 10 to five years. Instead, they shopped around for a cost-effective solution. “It was not a hard decision,” he says. “Most landfills in Louisiana use Posi-Shell.”

Posi-Shell ADC coatings consist of a unique blend of powdered mineral products, reinforcing fibers and adhesives that adhere and conform to any surface. Easily applied by one person, they do not negatively affect runoff water.

“It creates a permanent blanket,” Stewart describes. “The next morning, you can’t even tell what it was.” Another advantage, he adds, is that birds and rodents can’t pick it away. “We’ve had no more negative results since we switched.”

After the landfill closes at 5 p.m., the garbage is compacted and then sprayed. “The regulation says we must cover the garbage,” Stewart explains. “We’re permitted to use that material to cover it.” The material works, he says, although on rainy days, he continues to cover with dirt.

If there’s a downside, it’s the cost. “It’s expensive. I cringe when I place an order, but you gotta’ pay for quality. We use it wisely. We’re pleased; it’s more effective.” As a municipal facility, expenses are closely watched and every year, they go out for bid. However, because their permit was modified for this clay-based material that is totally different from the gypsum and newspaper used in other products, bids now have to include it.

“Regulations are stringent. My job is to carry out the permit,” Stewart sums up.

Getting the Vapors
Odor control at landfills is tricky, due to water quality and availability, says Tom Minett, national sales director for OMI Industries. That’s why waterless, environmentally friendly vapor phase technology is successful. Although similar to atomization, no water is used in the vaporization process. Instead, Ecosorb products are pumped through a perforated pipe distribution system at 5,000-feet-per-minute velocity, creating a dry mist that eliminates airborne odors.

The challenge is to make sure Ecosorb, an odor neutralizer with no added fragrance, comes in contact with the odor molecules, Minett says. PVC pipe installed around the perimeter of a landfill creates an invisible barrier. “When applied properly, it will work.” There are, however, environmental and logistical considerations that must be factored in for effective odor treatment.

Wind direction and neighborhood location are factors in treatment. “If the wind blows away from the population, there’s no need,” Minett elaborates. Likewise, if it’s raining, there’s no need; rain is a natural scrubber. A still day is the most difficult. “We prefer the wind to blow odor into a “˜wall’ of product. Nevertheless, since odor rises, high-pressure atomization lines can be strung around the perimeter. Sub-micron droplets can catch thermals and rise. It helps address the perimeter on a still day.”

Because weather conditions are variable, automation is incorporated to regulate the amount of product dispensed. “Automation is increasing,” Minett confirms, “with more sophisticated wind direction control.”

The amount of product applied can be increased or decreased as necessary. “We engineer the system for the application,” Minett explains. “We don’t alter the chemistry to adjust for dust and odor.”

The 25-year formula uses natural ingredients that react to odor on a molecular level to neutralize it. The non-toxic formula is safe for humans, animals, and the environment. Even the byproduct it produces is degradable. Extensive research conducted by third-party independent laboratories, universities, and olfactometry researchers confirm Ecosorb’s safety and effectiveness.

He goes on to say that odor at transfer stations, often located in populated areas, is addressed with equipment, not a change of solution. Atomization nozzles located directly beneath the ceiling over load-out and tipping areas controls odors and suppresses dust. In addition, because the equipment doesn’t use water, it helps facilities achieve LEED certification, which requires minimal or reused water.

Capital costs are higher-“about double”-than standard methods of odor control. However, maintenance costs and the cost of operation for vapor phase systems are better and more effective.

Regardless of the cost, Minett says it’s “very simple: Nobody uses our unique vapor phase system unless they have an odor problem.” And, he points out, no one else in the industry is using the same equipment and technology.

Wash Away Your Cares
Another proprietary product designed to reduce dust and odor is Rapid Wash’s waste container cleaning trucks. Constructed of aluminum and stainless steel, the self-contained trucks provide thorough cleaning, sanitizing and deodorizing of all styles of residential and commercial waste containers and rolloffs at curbside, using a high-speed orbital spray head.

With a vigilant eye toward environmental concerns, the trucks are as eco-friendly as possible. For example, if available, grey water is used. Debris is captured and wastewater is retained; nothing is dumped into storm sewers or drains, because the patented multistage filtration system has a continuous cycle passing through stainless-steel filters that enable it to reuse water. Bacteria are killed by eco-friendly detergent.

Cleaning containers in the automatic residential or semiautomatic commercial trucks also reduces exposure to bacteria, compared with traditional cleaning methods. “It’s a necessity to control diseases, especially in warm climates,” states Patsy Smith, owner of Rapid Wash Group Ltd. “The longer the cans stay dirty, the more the effect accumulates. It’s a public safety issue: odor signifies disease.”

Failure to clean residual waste allows a container to become a host for bacterial growth that attracts insects and vermin and can leach detrimental pathogens into the ground. Air-borne particles generate odor that attracts vermin.

Regular cleaning can reduce water and air pollution. “We’re not adding to the issue at landfills if the cans are clean,” Smith says. “If the cans are clean, there are fewer detrimental germs going to a landfill, which can mean less odor and disease. There needs to be regular cleaning to be beneficial; it’s too bad it’s not mandated.”
About the Author

Lori Lovely

Winner of several Society of Professional Journalists awards, Lori Lovely writes about topics related to waste management and technology.

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