Ogden Martin Waste to Energy Plant, Marion County, Oregon
The Ogden Martin Waste to Energy Facility (WTEF) in Marion County, Oregon began operations in 1987. It is owned and operated by Covanta Energy, a New Jersey-based company that specializes in producing energy from solid waste. The plant has the capacity to process up to 185,000 tons of solid waste annually.
The Ogden Martin WTEF uses a combustion process to convert solid waste from around Marion County into electricity. Much of this electricity is used to power the plant itself, while any excess energy is sold to Portland General Electric. The plant currently produces about 4,000 megawatts of excess energy every year.
About Waste-to-Energy Plants
The technology to create energy from solid waste has existed since the 19th century, although earlier methods produced too many byproducts to be viable. It was not until the 1960’s that people developed a way to convert waste to energy with minimal pollution. Today, all waste to energy facilities in the US must meet strict Environmental Protection Agency regulations concerning air pollution.
Combustion of solid waste is the most common technique for converting it to energy. In this process, waste is burned to produce steam that powers electricity-producing turbines. The primary pollutant associated with this process is ash that can be released into the air. In accordance with EPA regulations, the Ogden Martin Waste to Energy Plant stores the ash it produces and disposes of it safely.
Unfortunately, power plants of all kinds constructed before 1987 may pose another kind of danger. During the 20th century, asbestos was a very popular component in energy plants; it was used to produce insulation, cement, safety equipment, and more. Anyone who has worked in a power plant or lived near one should be aware of the potential health risks associated with exposure to asbestos, including the potential development of lung cancer, asbestosis, or mesothelioma.