Tag Archives: odors

Correspondence and documents related to the “Green Recovery Technologies” facility proposed for the City of Newcastle, DE

Updated Thursday, November 13, 2014.

Some documents in this matter are posted by the DNREC at this location.

Other documents obtained by Green Delaware are linked here (work in progress).

This is the most recent DNREC reply to our Freedom of Information Act requests:


And here are some valuable comments provided by the Delaware Audubon Society:


Below is some email correspondence between Green Delaware and the Delaware DNREC:  We will add to it as it develops.

Continue reading

Green Delaware’s comments on Peninsula Composting

Green Delaware
Alan Muller, Executive Director
Box 69. One Stewart Street
Port Penn, DE 19731 USA
cell 302.299.6783

September 10, 2014

Mr, Robert Haynes, Hearing Officer
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
via email

Regarding:  Peninsula Composting–Renewal, or not, of “Beneficial Use Determination”

Dear Mr. Haynes:

Green Delaware recommends, reluctantly, that the Beneficial Use Determination and other approvals for Peninsula Composting (sometimes known as the Wilmington Organics Recycling Center, WORC) not be renewed, and that the facility be required to close. Continue reading

Peninsula Composting and composting in general

[Note:  This post is a work in progress because we are waiting for the DNREC to provide transcripts and other requested documents.]

Composting is a good thing.  It’s the best way to handle the “organic” materials that make up around 30 percent of “municipal solid waste” (garbage).  “Compost” is very useful in farming and gardening.

But composting, like everything else, has to be done right.  It is essentially a controlled form or rotting.   Done wrong, it can stink, cause air and water pollution, drive neighbors out of their homes.

Backyard or neighborhood composting doesn’t usually cause problems.  Many communities compost yard waste–grass clippings, etc, and this doesn’t usually cause problems.

Composting food waste is manageable but does have more tendency to cause odors and attract rodents, especially if animal parts are involved.

When sewage sludge is added to the mix, things obviously become even more difficult.

Trying to compost mixed garbage is always a disaster.

Composting is regulated by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).  There are approximately ___ permitted composting operations in Delaware.

Delaware had one big, bad experience with composting by the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA, Green Delaware has often called it the “Dirty Authority”) at Pigeon Point, just south of Wilmington.  In the 1980s the DSWA started up a large composting operation as part of an elaborate garbage processing operation including an incinerator.  The feed to the composting operation reportedly included 275 tons per day of partially separated garbage and 250 tons per day of City of Wilmington sewage sludge.  It was a disaster, stinking people out of their homes.  The compost was unusable as it contained toxic PCBs.

This operation, along with the rest of the processing operations, were eventually shut down after years of community complaints.

For some background on the Dirty Authority see this article from 1998:  “Misguided Delaware Solid Waste Authority Embarrasses State, Harms Communities, Doesn’t Recycle our Trash.”

Jump to 2007 and a proposal for a 700 ton per day composting in South Wilmington.  There was lots of cheerleading for this and, as is often the case, Green Delaware stood mostly alone in raising concerns.  Some of these:

o     It would be a large operation that would bring hundreds of tons per day of often-rotten food waste from surrounding states; a much larger operation than needed to meet Delaware needs.  Because of the distances, food waste would have a chance to get stinky before it even entered the composting process;

o     It would be located in a classic “environmental justice” (lower income, people of color) community already burdened by many health and environmental problems;

o     Some of those involved had a history of causing environmental problems.

See this 2007 Wilmington News Journal article: “Recycling company wants to compost out-of-state food waste near Wilmington

The Southbridge Civic Association signed a “Community Benefits Agreement” with the promoters.  We are waiting for a copy, but a description of it is available in this presentation.

Marvin Thomas, former President of the Southbridge Civic Association, said there were few complaints during the first couple of years of operations, but many since.  He said the Civic Association and surrounding communities are united in their desire that Peninsula Composting be shut down.  He indicated that communities have not recently sought to implement other parts of the agreement because they are at odds with Peninsula.  He also indicated that many community residents are not interested in working there because of poor working conditions and low pay.

Recycling company wants to compost out-of-state food waste near Wilmington

Recycling company wants to compost out-of-state food waste near Wilmington

Posted Friday, June 8, 2007

Peninsula Compost Co. wants to use this site east of I-495 for composting food waste along with leaves and wood.

A recycling company has proposed composting 160,000 tons a year of food, leaves and wood near the Port of Wilmington, the latest sign, some environmentalists say, that the city is becoming a regional wastebasket.

Peninsula Compost Co. would recycle the castoffs from restaurants and fast-food chains from northern Delaware and New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

The amount of food waste proposed could exceed the total amount sent to all of Delaware’s landfills in 2002.

Nelson Widell, a principal in the project, said developers plan to cover the dozens of rotting piles of waste — each 50 yards long, 26 feet wide and 10 feet high — with a W.L. Gore & Associates fabric designed to control odors.

Alan Muller, who directs the environmental group Green Delaware, said while the project has lofty goals, it could burden neighborhoods that suffered through previous failed efforts to compost waste at the nearby Pigeon Point Landfill.

“Who’s going to be served by this, and why should more waste disposal facilities be approved for Wilmington … because other jurisdictions are smart enough to not want them in their backyard?” Muller said.

East Wilmington already has become a magnet for other types of waste. Other ventures include:

•A city government-endorsed arrangement that brought hundreds of thousands of tons of out-of-state power plant ash into Wilmington to be mixed with treated sewage sludge. VFL Technology, a wholly owned subsidiary of Utah-based Headwaters Inc., set a goal of marketing mixtures of ash, sludge and other industrial castoffs as a topsoil substitute. But instead of selling it on the commercial market, VFL has sent more than 1 million tons of the mixture to city-area landfills for landscaping or cover.

•A new business off Christina Avenue in south Wilmington that would collect hundreds of thousands of tons of local and out-of-state construction and demolition waste for shipment by barge to a recycling center in North Carolina.

•A new, large-scale commercial mulching center near the port, opened in advance of a ban on landfilling of northern Delaware yard wastes.

Charles H. Gifford III, president of Peninsula Composting, said his company’s venture is unrelated to others in Delaware.

Gifford said he hopes the project can win a Coastal Zone Act permit this year, allowing the startup to coincide with the landfill ban on yard wastes.

Peninsula’s plan calls for use of the filtering cover system developed by Gore to control odors, moisture and gas emissions that seep up from the piles. Dozens are in use around the world. The largest, in Everett, http://healthsavy.com/product/levitra/ Wash., is roughly the same size as the one proposed for Wilmington.

“We have been looking at the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware area for a while and noted that Delaware had taken a position — a correct position — against leaf and yard waste in their landfills,” Gifford said. “It seemed like the right attitude was evolving there, from a regulatory standpoint.”

Gifford acknowledged that Peninsula would, at least initially, collect food wastes from neighboring states.

A study for the Delaware Solid Waste Authority in 2002 estimated that the entire state generates about 79,000 tons of food waste yearly.

The waste authority already has tested the Gore composting system on a smaller scale with yard waste and poultry house waste at the Sussex County landfill. And the waste authority recently purchased the equipment for use with yard waste at Cherry Island Landfill in east Wilmington.

“I’m very pleased that somebody has decided to come in and do something — not only with yard waste, but food waste,” said Pasquale S. Canzano, the waste authority’s chief executive.

The Port of Wilmington alone sometimes sends large amounts of food waste to Cherry Island, Canzano said, including “trailer loads of bananas and whatever that go bad from time to time.”

Deborah Deubert, executive director of the Rose Hill Community Center just south of the site, said neighborhoods have had trouble with industrial activities in the past. State regulators repeatedly sanctioned and eventually shut down a composting operation at Pigeon Point after odor complaints were filed against the contractor.

“The memory is still fresh, and they have other odor and dust concerns,” involving local businesses and landfills, Deubert said. “I would hope that the powers that be are making an effort to get information out so that people can ask questions about it.”

Widell, a project principal, said the company is “reaching out to neighborhood groups and neighbors. … We’re going to be talking with the neighbors, to take the mystery out of it.”

The operation in Delaware would produce about 250,000 tons yearly of topsoil and compost.

In Wilmington’s Southbridge community, longtime resident Franklin Starkey was skeptical.

“Why does it have to be in south Wilmington,” said Starkey, who lives a few blocks northwest of the proposed composting site, not far from the redeveloping Christina River waterfront.

“I admire what they’re doing with putting new condos on the water and a new ShopRite. I don’t know about compost,” Starkey said. “We already have a problem with odors here, with the landfill and the other things they have out there now. You can’t keep your windows open.”