The Pope/Douglas Solid Waste Joint Powers Board was formed in 1983. The purpose of the organization is to own and operate a solid waste management system. The system is owned and governed by Pope County at 25% and Douglas County at 75%.
The Waste to Energy Facility (WTE) was constructed in 1986 and began accepting waste in April of 1987. A recycling program was implemented in December of 1988. The goal of the program is to keep elements that are harmful and decrease the life of the incinerator (such as glass and metals) out of the waste stream.
In 2011 a third combustion unit was added to the WTE Facility to meet the solid waste managmenent needs of Pope and Douglas Counties.
The Waste to Energy facility is permitted to process 240 tons per day. It operates 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. The facility has a pit that is 20 feet deep where the industrial wastes and sorted wastes from the sorting facility are mixed together. A grapple picks up the waste and loads it into the incinerator where it is burned at 1,800°F. During the incineration process 76,000 M pounds of steam, at 170 pounds of pressure, is generated.
The steam is sold or used by the following:
- Sold to Alexandria Technical & Community College for heating purposes.
- Sold to the 3M Manufacturing plant for heating and production purposes.
- Sold to the Douglas County Hospital for heating, cooling, and production purposes.
- Used by the Pope/Douglas Waste to Energy plant for heating purposes. Produces 500 kilowatt per hour energy of electricity that is used in-house.
The Waste To Energy plant is monitored by the Continuous Emission Monitoring System which constantly monitors the following:
- Burn Temperature
- Carbon Monoxide
- Opacity (measurement of density of smoke leaving the stack)
- Sulfur Dioxide
- Nitrogen Oxide
The maximum opacity permitted by the State of Minnesota is 10%. The Pope/Douglas normal opacity is 0% to .5%. The white plume that is coming out of the stack is simply steam vapor.
Each quarter, the Continuous Emission Monitoring System records have to be compiled into a report and sent to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in St. Paul to prove that Pope/Douglas is in compliance. All of the parameters are indicators of how thorough the burn process is.
There is a limit on Carbon Monoxide (CO). The limit is 100 ppm (parts per million). Pope/Douglas results indicate 0-15 ppm.
Another type of test run is called Scheduled Stack tests which occur annually on each unit for mercury and dioxins. The limits on mercury are 80 micrograms per dry standard cubic meters (dscm) which are extremely minuscule. The latest tests performed at Pope/Douglas are:
March 2011 - Unit #1 - 1.54 micrograms
March 2011 - Unit #2 - 1.59 micrograms
March 2008 - Unit #1 - 2.00 micrograms
March 2008 - Unit #2 - 0.78 micrograms
The limit for Dioxin is 125 nanograms per dscm. The Unit 1 May 2011 test was 7.63 nanograms dscm and the Unit 2 March 2010 test result was 2.90 nanograms dscm.
These test results show that Pope/Douglas is in compliance and the emissions at the Pope/Douglas Waste To Energy plant are well below the standard. However; it is important to realize that the emissions are a direct result of the material people discard into the trash.