By Paul Grego, Plant Manager, Wheelabrator Portsmouth
Most people don’t know what happens to their trash once it goes curbside and is then hauled away by their city or county garbage truck. Well, here in Hampton Roads, the discards from about a million people is brought to the region’s only waste-to-energy system and recycled into steam to heat buildings at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and electricity to power our homes and businesses.
Over the past months I have had the privilege to conduct tours for a host of city council members, city managers, solid waste and public works directors, city attorneys and finance directors from all the southside cities – all of whom were eager to learn how the current structure works. I believe that everyone left with a great deal of confidence that this critical, but rarely observed job, is being done well, indeed better than ever.
After acquiring both facilities, Wheelabrator has brought them back to full working order. Thanks to the expertise of our engineers and the efforts of employees, many of them holdovers from previous management, we have completed extensive repairs and refurbishments to enhance environmental performance, odor control, safety, reliability and power generation. The net result is increased boiler availability, and full compliance with environmental permits.
We have also worked hard to make the plants a safer setting for our employees. That is our highest priority at Wheelabrator, and since April 2010 we have had several streaks of one hundred or more injury-free days in our 24/7 operation. Our goal is to achieve Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star status, a standard achieved by fewer than 2,500 workplaces nationwide.
Since becoming a part of the Hampton Roads region, we have also devoted quite a bit of time to strengthen and maintain good relations with our neighbors. We actively support environmental groups like the Elizabeth River Project’s Paradise Creek project and other positive civic activities throughout southside Hampton Roads.
We understand that a commitment to the community is an integral part of our business. That is why we are extending an invitation to all Chamber members to take a tour and see firsthand how we convert your household waste into steam and electricity and to appreciate how important waste-to-energy is to our region. We believe it is the best option going forward, and we are eager to be part of the discussion about how waste is managed in southside Hampton Roads for decades to come.
Contact Paul Grego to schedule a 60-minute tour of the Portsmouth facilities at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 757-393-3101. To learn more about waste-to-energy or Wheelabrator Portsmouth, please visit our website at www.wheelabratortechnologies.com.