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By Gina Tabonares

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Jan. 29, 2008) –A waste management company from Australia has expressed interest in investing on island and providing options and strategies for managing the island's municipal solid waste system.

George Hatzimihalis, director and principal consultant of Hatlar Environmental Pty. Ltd, wrote a letter to District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood, asking for an opportunity to present an alternative proposal to manage the island's solid waste.

Hatzimihalis informed the Chief Judge that "there are several viable alternative options to the Ordot landfill and incineration options being proposed."

According to the Hatlar officer, their firm has been working with plasma technology for over eight years, running the establishment of a "Startech Plasma Converter System" to treat hazardous waste in China, Philippines, Australia, and Thailand.

"Undoubtedly, plasma is a superior technology in the destruction of hazardous waste due to the high temperatures that can be achieved, however, for an island like Guam the energy balance of such a system needs to be taken into consideration," Hatzimihalis stated.

He said that his group has already undertaken several feasibility studies, including an assessment of applicable alternative technologies to replace the Ordot landfill with a viable sustainable option which can also be extended to handle a significant proportion of the military's waste.

Under the Hatlar recommendation, the group will consider three stage processes.

The first involves the passing of the waste through an autoclave system, which will enable a significant amount of the recyclables to be recovered.

He said this system provides as much as a 70 percent reduction in volume, thus reducing the size of the required infrastructure downstream of the autoclave and also allowing for the "delaminating" of cans, rubber, and plastic for recycling.

The remaining material or biomass passes through to the "gasification" stage.

In the second stage, the biomass and non-recyclable plastic, fabric and rubber is passed through a gasification process to generate a synthesis gas that can then be converted into a variety of products. This synthesis gas will generate electricity based on a 400 ton per day system.

"The system would be able to provide the island with a substantial load of electricity which is urgently needed especially with the larger influx of U.S. military personnel," Hatzimihalis said.

Aside from the electricity, the gasification will produce ash, which can be sent to the cement kilns for recycling and would serve as a good substitute for sand that is used for concrete production.

The Hatlar director further explained that some of the energy generated is recycled back to the system to operate the plant and to the smaller plasma system for the treatment of the hazardous waste.

Hatzimihalis told the court that Hatlar has prepared a "fully-costed" proposal for implementing the system in Guam, adding that the system is viable on the basis of current tipping fees and the sale of electricity.

He added that the capital required for the plasma technology would come from the private sector through a financing arrangement.

He also assured the court that the technology used comes from the U.S. and complies with all aspects of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency criteria.

The proposed plasma gasification plant can cost from $25 million to $35 million. Its technology involves breaking down garbage under an intense heat without burning it.

The proposed plant won't have a smokestack because no combustion takes place.

The company's proposal was put on the court record but it is not known yet whether it will be discussed in the Consent Decree status hearing as part of solutions for the ongoing garbage crisis.

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