Incinerator Re-Opening Stalled

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Bay County's Waste to Energy Facility, or incinerator, has been out of use since it was heavily damaged by a fire in February. Managers thought they could have it back on-line by the summer, but it now appears it will be December before the incinerator is up and running.

The February fire destroyed one of the incinerator's buildings and heavily damaged another, forcing management to replace all of the equipment inside. Since then, it's been an uphill battle to rebuild, re-equip, and then test all of the new components.

"We're doing a lot of system, sub-system testing, and you hope for the best and plan for the worst,” said Joe Tannehill, Jr. of Engen, LLC. “A lot of times when you do find a problem, you know there's more materials you have to buy, there's more labor to put it in."
Tannehill says the biggest factor in when the incinerator reopens is when the money comes in, and he says if the pace continues as is, it should be open by mid-December.

"We can only go as fast as the money we're receiving from the insurance company,” said Tannehill. We will not spend ahead and put the county in any type of risk position regarding spending money on repairs."

The downtime has been a burden on local cities which are paying more to haul their garbage to the Steelfield Landfill.

"Right now, all of their trucks are going to the landfill and that's additional travel time, additional wear and tear, obviously when we start running MSW or garbage in early December they'll be back to normal again."

Tannehill also says he's converting the incinerator to operate on natural gas when there's no trash to burn. Residents who live nearby may hear the sounds of steam testing within the next few weeks.

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