Commentary: Sacramento wastes time on waste disposal

This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.

The city of Sacramento bungled badly when it struck an exclusive arrangement with U.S. Science and Technology to negotiate a deal on a waste-to-energy project. The city should stop wasting staff time and city resources trying to resurrect this flawed proposal and start the process anew.

Sacramento needs to find a better way to dispose of its garbage. Currently on most nights, some two dozen diesel-powered garbage trucks haul Sacramento municipal waste over the Sierra to the Lockwood landfill in the deserts of western Nevada, a 282-mile round trip. The nightly caravan pollutes the air, is expensive and is ultimately unsustainable.

Given that, the city is right to seek alternative disposal options. The technology Sacramento officials chose to explore exclusively, plasma arc gasification, is promising but unproven. It has no track record in this country. In fact, there are no plasma arc gasification plants of the specific type proposed for Sacramento operating anywhere in the world.

The Japanese facility that city officials visited earlier this year does not burn municipal waste exclusively in its plant, nor does it market the slag byproducts of the gasification process, key features of the proposed Sacramento facility.

The unproven technology is not the only problem with the Sacramento's waste-to-energy proposal.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.