Capital Disposal, the company that handles all of Juneau's solid waste, was recently fined $180,000 by the state for violating smoke emission regulations with its incinerator.
The company was charged with seven violations by the state related to producing thick smoke from its incinerator and failing to keep thorough records of the garbage it has burned, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Michael Allison, Southeast district manager for Waste Management, the parent company for Capitol Disposal, declined comment. But Waste Management released a statement saying it will pay the fine and upgrade burners in its incinerator.
Jeanette Brena, air permits enforcement officer for the Division of Air Quality, began receiving complaints about the thickness of the smoke emanating from the incinerator in 2003. Brena said the incinerator is one of the largest in Alaska.
"It's merely breaking the rules," Brena said when asked if the violations could have posed health risks to those living in nearby residential areas. "You'd have to go to someone above me to get them to say anything other than that."
As part of a routine review she inspected the Lemon Creek facility between May and October of 2003.
The inspection revealed that smoke from burning trash emanating from the incinerator was thicker than state law allows.
"They can only reduce visibility by 20 percent," Brena said.
She said the company also violated regulations requiring Capitol Disposal to operate an electrostatic precipitator, which collects dust from the burning garbage to reduce the thickness of the smoke.
Between May and October, Brena logged 14 times when the smoke control device was not being used.
"It wasn't a lot but it was more than we thought should happen," Brena said.
The company also was fined for creating additional smoke by burning garbage at low temperatures and not keeping complete records of when and how much garbage was burned.
Sarah Simpson, a corporate communication officer for Waste Management in Houston, Texas, issued a statement saying: "DEC and Capitol resolved several compliance questions related to the visibility of the plume from the incinerator stack, operating temperatures and reporting and record-keeping, through this settlement. Capitol has agreed to make a cash payment and upgrade the burners in the incinerator."
The state said the incinerator has operated in Juneau since 1986 and will cease to operate on May 6, 2005.