Thursday , March 02, 2017 - 5:00 PM
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misidentified the location of the Davis Energy Recovery Facility. The Standard-Examiner regrets the error.
Faced with declining interest in steam generated by the Davis Energy Recovery Facility and $8 million in upgrades, officials decided Wednesday to shutter the trash-burning plant on the east side of Hill Air Force Base. Since it opened in 1987, the burn plant’s steam has been used to heat part of the military complex.
The move will preclude the need to hike trash-collection fees for Davis and Morgan county customers, which officials considered as an alternative to keep the plant open. As the operation winds down, 33 of 39 workers will eventually be let go, probably by May 31.
The workers will receive severance packages based on the length of their service and will be able to tap into job-training programs.
“Last night was the hardest decision I’ve been involved in in all my career,” Bob Stevenson, the mayor of Layton and chairman of the Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District board, said Thursday. The board is the governing body of the Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District — the quasi-governmental body that processes trash generated in much of Davis and Morgan counties. The group of officials met for three hours Wednesday before voting 13-4 to close the plant.
Plant employees addressed the board before Wednesday’s vote, and the tone of the meeting stayed civil despite the delicate topic, which has been a focus of deliberation since last December. Six of the plant’s workers will be absorbed into operations at the Davis Landfill, run by the Wasatch district.
“I was incredibly proud of the professionalism that they showed. This is harder for them more than anyone,” said Nathan Rich, executive director of the Wasatch district.
The burn plant has been under increasing pressure from state and federal environmental regulators. It faced a deadline to install $2 million in equipment to reduce emissions by year’s end and needed $6 million more in improvements to replace aging technology, Rich said.
Beyond that, Hill Air Force Base expressed “reduced interest” in the burn plant’s steam and was looking into other energy sources, according to a Wasatch district press release.
If the board had gone forward with the alternative plan to keep the plant open, residential customers would have paid $2 more per month for trash collection, bumping rates from $5.20 to $7.20. Commercial rates would have increased as well.
$11 MILLION IN UPGRADES
The Wasatch district is responsible for processing residential and commercial trash generated throughout Davis and Morgan counties, with the exception of Bountiful. It handles around 290,000 tons of garbage per year, according to Rich.
The burn plant consumed around 125,000 tons of trash per year, with the remainder going to the Davis Landfill.
With the burn plant going away, officials plan to pursue development of a transfer station and recycling complex over the next two years or so. The station and complex will be needed to keep the landfill from filling up too quickly.
The transfer station, with a cost of $5 million, will serve as a way station before a portion of the trash coming from Davis and Morgan counties is shipped elsewhere to be landfilled. The recycling facility, costing around $6 million, will allow for removal of cardboard, plastic and metal from trash, reducing the quantity going into landfills.
Despite the $11 million price tag of the upgrades, trash-collection rates will stay the same thanks to savings from the closure of the burn plant, according to the officials. It costs more to process trash at the burn plant than it does to landfill it.
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