City’s Low Trash Disposal Rate at Risk in Covanta Negotiations

Haverhill’s relatively low trash disposal rate is on the table as the city and Covanta Haverhill Associates negotiate a new “host agreement.”

Haverhill pays $58 per ton of residential trash sent to the Covanta waste-to-energy plant in Ward Hill.

“City of Haverhill has a very favorable tipping fee as our host community,” Covanta Business Manager Ken Nydam told WHAV. He said the company’s agreement with the city expires this year. “(The) current agreement for waste disposal is expiring and both parties working together on an extension,” he said.

Appearing on WHAV’s Open Mike Show Monday, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini said he wishes the company never came to Haverhill in the first place.

“They are here. They’re not going to disappear. They’re not going to go away so we’re negotiating with them now. They have a long way to go on their license from the state, but their host agreement with us expires next year,” Fiorentini said.

Nydam also confirmed the Morristown, N.J.-based company is “having discussions on Covanta purchasing property for future use which could be extending landfill.” The current 147-acre parcel, comprising the 1,650-ton-per-day waste-to-energy plant and landfill, is currently leased from the Rogers family.

The late James Ricci originally developed the site as a landfill and waste-to-energy site. He created Refuse Fuels to convert trash from Haverhill and other communities into pellets in a process called refuse-derived fuel (RDF). The pellets were trucked to Lawrence to be burned in a retrofitted oil-fired power plant. Haverhill city councilors in 1978 permitted Ricci’s landfill to open early as both the city’s Old Groveland Road landfill and its Amesbury successor were declared contaminated.

Ricci’s proposals won support from former Haverhill mayors George K. Katsaros, Thomas S. Vathally and William H. Ryan. When Ricci’s plant ultimately went online, it suffered from frequent technology failures, forcing the company into insolvency. Ogden Martin Systems, a subsidiary of Ogden Corp. of New York, entered into negotiations to buy the RDF system in the late 1980s and add a mass burn incinerator and electricity-generating turbines at the Haverhill site.

Haverhill Mayor Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. fought the plant’s licensing and refused to negotiate a host agreement with the company. The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Haverhill Board of Health eventually permitted the operation, and the new mass burn units went online in 1989. The original RDF plant closed when it could no longer meet federal and state pollution requirements.

Ogden Martin Systems changed its name to Covanta Energy Corporation in 2001 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2002. The company was acquired by Danielson Holding Corporation in 2004.

3 thoughts on “City’s Low Trash Disposal Rate at Risk in Covanta Negotiations

  1. So I am sure that the current tipping fee of $58 per ton is outdated. What do they think the new fee could be ? If Haverill recycles even more, will that cause the fee to rise ? How much more ash will they add to the area before they do some testing for leaching into to river ? I realize that the main part of the hill may be contained due to a vault type system, but you can;t do it for the whole pile can you ?