Category Archives: Waste.Management

Governing garbage: Advancing urban sustainability in the context of private service delivery

Source: Jacqueline Peterson and Sara Hughes, Cities, October 2017

Abstract:

City governments across North America are increasingly pursuing sustainability aims through novel policies and practices. Such efforts frequently involve changes to municipal services that are provided by the private sector. However, the implications of private service delivery for public sustainability aims are not well understood. We use the experience of Minnesota’s Twin Cities metropolitan area with organic waste recycling to examine how different types of public-private relationships in service delivery shape the ability of municipalities to pursue sustainability through organic waste recycling programs. We find that municipalities with contractual relationships with waste haulers – “organized” systems – have greater success in introducing organic waste recycling than municipalities with licensing relationships with waste haulers – “open” systems. These findings point to the importance of institutional variation in public-private relationships to the success of urban sustainability initiatives and the ability of decision makers to affect change.

Nuclear Negligence

Source: Center for Public Integrity, August 1, 2017

Nuclear Negligence examines safety weaknesses at U.S. nuclear weapon sites operated by corporate contractors. The Center’s probe, based on contractor and government reports and officials involved in bomb-related work, revealed unpublicized accidents at nuclear weapons facilities, including some that caused avoidable radiation exposures. It also discovered that the penalties imposed by the government for these errors were typically small, relative to the tens of millions of dollars the NNSA gives to each of the contractors annually in pure profit.

  1. A near-disaster at a federal nuclear weapons laboratory takes a hidden toll on America’s arsenal: Repeated safety lapses hobble Los Alamos National Laboratory’s work on the cores of U.S. nuclear warheads
  2. Safety problems at a Los Alamos laboratory delay U.S. nuclear warhead testing and production: A facility that handles the cores of U.S. nuclear weapons has been mostly closed since 2013 over its inability to control worker safety risks
  3. Light penalties and lax oversight encourage weak safety culture at nuclear weapons labs: Explosions, fires, and radioactive exposures are among the workplace hazards that fail to make a serious dent in private contractor profits
  4. More than 30 nuclear experts inhale uranium after radiation alarms at a weapons site are switched off: Most were not told about it until months later, and other mishaps at the Nevada nuclear test site followed
  5. Repeated radiation warnings go unheeded at sensitive Idaho nuclear plant: The inhalation of plutonium by 16 workers is preceded and followed by other contamination incidents but the private contractor in charge suffers only a light penalty
  6. Nuclear weapons contractors repeatedly violate shipping rules for dangerous materials: Los Alamos laboratory’s recent mistakes in shipping plutonium were among dozens of incidents involving mislabeled or wrongly shipped materials associated with the nuclear weapons program

Higher Rates, Missed Pickups: L.A. is Hearing a Rash of Complaints About its New Waste Removal System

Source: David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2017

Eight months ago, the Los Angeles City Council voted to overhaul the way trash is picked up at tens of thousands of businesses and large residential buildings, giving the work exclusively to a select group of companies. Backers of the program, championed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, said the new system would increase recycling, roll out cleaner-fuel trash trucks and improve workplace safety for sanitation workers. But the new program, known as RecycLA, is not being universally welcomed by the businesses and residents who will rely on it for their trash pickup. In recent weeks, customers have begun complaining about soaring prices, uncollected trash and calls to their new waste hauling companies going unreturned. …

Middletown, sanitation union clash over privatization

Source: James Nani, Times Herald-Record, June 25, 2017
 
Major changes to city sanitation services are unlikely to materialize this year after negotiations between city and union officials to privatize waste-hauling reached an impasse. The city and the CSEA union, that represents more than 100 city workers and about 14 city sanitation workers, had been negotiating a new contract since late 2014. … CSEA Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo has claimed that the costs of outsourced sanitation have “spiraled out of control in many communities after initial lowball bids” and that outsourcing means surrendering control on prices, scheduling and other factors that can affect price and inconvenience residents. Jessica Ladlee, a CSEA spokeswoman, said members do not want to trade negotiating people out of their union for salary increases.

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Middletown explores outsourcing waste hauling
Source: James Nani, Record Online, May 2, 2017

Middletown officials are in negotiations with the union representing city sanitation workers as the city explores outsourcing waste hauling, a move that could eliminate the 14-member department. The talks with the union come as Middletown considers two options to reduce the cost of city sanitation services: either privatizing the services or downsizing and automating part of the department. … But under a push by Alderman Joe Masi, the city last released a request for proposals on the costs of private waste haulers to take over all waste services. As part of the request, any private hauler who wins a contract with the city would have to hire all city sanitation workers for one year. The move has met with resistance by the CSEA, which represents city sanitation workers. …

Lexserv to Temporarily Shut Down While City Takes Over Service

Source: WTVQ, May 8, 2017

A temporary shutdown of the LEXserv online and phone bill payment system has been scheduled as Lexington’s Division of Revenue takes over the service from Greater Cincinnati Water Works. Beginning May 15, the city will manage all LEXserv customer service and billing services, eliminating the need for outsourcing. Officials say some of the many benefits include:

  • City will save taxpayer dollars by moving system in-house;
  • Customer service will be handled by LFUCG staff in Lexington, creating jobs;
  • Payments will be mailed to a Lexington address for processing;
  • New web portal for customers to make payments, review billing. …

A.C. trash collectors angry service privatized despite council

Source: Christian Hetrick, Press of Atlantic City, May 17, 2017
 
Angry workers and residents criticized the state’s move to privatize trash collection Wednesday night during a long public-comment portion of a City Council meeting.  The meeting came two days after officials running a state takeover of the city bypassed the council to approve a three-year, $7.2 million contract to Gold Medal Environmental of New Jersey, a company in Gloucester County. … City officials say the deal will save the financially-troubled city $1.1 million this year and won’t require layoffs. Sanitation workers will fill vacant positions in the Public Works Department, city and state officials said.  The council tabled a vote to outsource the service three weeks ago after some council members said they never received a cost-savings analysis. …

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State privatizes Atlantic City trash collection without City Council
Source: Christian Hetrick, Press of Atlantic City, May 16, 2017
 
Officials running a state takeover of the city bypassed City Council on Monday to privatize the city’s trash collection.  The state authorized the city administration to award a three-year, $7.2 million contract to Gold Medal Environmental, a private company that will handle the city’s trash and recycling collection. The decision came nearly three weeks after the council pulled a vote to outsource the service.  State Local Government Services Director Timothy Cunningham informed Council President Marty Small of the decision in a letter dated Monday, a copy of which was obtained by The Press of Atlantic City. … The move marks the first time the state has used such power over the council. The state took over the city’s finances in November through the Municipal Stabilization & Recovery Act, which gave state officials authority to pass or repeal any council resolution. Cunningham’s letter specifically cited the state’s power to “procure services” on behalf of the city.

… City administration officials said the contract to Gold Medal will save the city $1.1 million per year without requiring layoffs. The council considered the contract to Gold Medal on April 26, but balked at outsourcing the service after some councilmen said they didn’t have enough information. Those council members, including Councilman Frank Gilliam, had said they never received an analysis comparing the contract to the cost of doing the service in-house. Gilliam said Monday that he had since received a report from city Public Works Director Paul Jerkins, but said the cost analysis didn’t have “legitimate numbers” that justify the savings claimed by the city and state. …

Atlantic City Council to consider privatizing trash collection
Source:Christian Hetrick, Press of Atlantic City, April 25, 2017

City Council will consider privatizing trash collection, awarding a contract for a bike loop and amending rules regarding rolling chairs Wednesday evening. The council is scheduled to vote on awarding Gold Environmental of New Jersey a three-year, $7.2 million contract to handle the city’s trash and recycling collection. The measure is intended to cut costs in the cash-strapped city. The city’s 2017 introduced budget listed a $393,313 savings from its Public Works Department this year. …

U.S. settles with contractor for $4.6 million after alleged False Claims Act violations

Source: Mark Iandolo, Legal Newsline, May 4, 2017

The U.S. Department of Justice announced April 24 that Energy & Process Corporation (E&P) of Tucker, Georgia, will pay $4.6 million after allegations of violating the False Claims Act. According to the department, E&P had a contract to construct a Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear waste treatment facility. The company is purported to have knowingly failed to perform required quality assurance procedures. Additionally, it allegedly supplied defective steel reinforcing bars. … “Our complaint alleges that after actively touting its experience with nuclear construction and quality assurance work, and then being hired to perform such work in connection with an important project, E&P chose to forego the agreed to quality assurance work, and then compounded this failure by falsely certifying to the government that it had performed the quality assurance work,” said U.S. attorney John A. Horn for the Northern District of Georgia. …

Oakland, CA sues California Waste Solutions over recycling contract error

Source: Cole Rosengren, Waste Dive, March 27, 2017

The city of Oakland, CA has filed a lawsuit against its recycling service provider, California Waste Solutions, in Alameda County Superior Court over a “draftsman’s error” that allows the company to charge significantly more than intended​ for moving recycling bins, as reported by SFGate.
Single-family homeowners are charged $27.85 to have their recycling bins pulled to the curb and that fee was supposed to be the same for residents in multi-unit buildings. Instead, the contract allows California Waste Solutions to charge up to $776.13 for this service at multi-unit buildings. That fee is meant for full-size dumpsters, not standard bins. While no one has reported the company charging this full amount yet, multiple customers have seen rate increases since the city’s current contract began in 2015. The city is suing to cap the rate at its intended amount and recuperate an unspecified amount of overcharges, with interest, that resulted from the higher rate. …

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Waste Management Launches Referendum Drive to Win Back Oakland Garbage Contract
Source: Sam Levin, East Bay Express, September 4, 2014

…Now, Waste Management is taking another route to fight CWS’ award — collecting signatures from voters in the hopes of passing a referendum to overturn the council’s decision. Waste Management, a Texas-based corporation, has hired local political strategist Larry Tramutola to help lead the referendum effort, according to David Tucker, director of community and public relations for Waste Management. Tucker told me that the company began collecting signatures over the weekend and has to turn in petitions within thirty days of the city finalizing its decision to award the garbage contract to CWS. That means that by September 26, Waste Management has to collect roughly 21,000 eligible signatures, representing 10 percent of the city’s voters. If successful, the award of the contract to CWS would be put on hold until Oakland voters have an opportunity to directly weigh in on a referendum overturning the city’s ordinances authorizing CWS to take over the franchise. …

Waste Management sues Oakland over $1 billion trash contract
Source: Will Kane, San Francisco Chronicle, August 18, 2014

The nation’s biggest trash hauler sued the city of Oakland on Monday claiming that the City Council illegally steered a $1 billion contract to a local garbage company with which it has “personal and political connections.” The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court by Waste Management, claims that Oakland’s City Council at the last minute steered the 10-year contract to collect garbage, recycling and compost in Oakland to an ill-prepared local company over the objections of city staffers, who argued the big Texas firm was in the best position to win the deal. The council awarded the contract to California Waste Solutions, a West Oakland recycling company that, the suit said, had not held a garbage-hauling contract in the United States, submitted proposals that were late and did not comply with the city’s contracting rules. In addition, the city gave that company confidential information about Waste Management’s pricing and proposal, the suit said. The suit asks the court to overturn that decision and effectively award the contract to Waste Management….

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Will Rick Perry Privatize America’s Nuclear Waste Storage?

Source: Ashley Dejean, Mother Jones, January 24, 2017

In recent decades, the federal government has turned to private corporations to help handle everything from intelligence to prisons. Should nuclear waste be next? That’s a question currently being considered by the Department of Energy, as it looks for solutions to the long-standing problem of how to store radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. Now, with Rick Perry slated to head the department, the issue could become more complicated. That’s because the former Texas governor has deep ties to a waste disposal company that could create a significant conflict of interest once he becomes energy secretary. Nuclear waste is currently held at power plants across the country—some of which are no longer operating. The federal government was supposed to start consolidating the waste from these plants nearly 20 years ago, but it hasn’t been able to find a way to dispose of it.

… Because Yucca Mountain had been stalled for so long, the federal government began to explore the possibility of working with private companies for interim storage of the waste—a temporary solution that could last for decades. … One company eager to get in on interim storage is Texas-based Waste Control Specialists, which last year applied for a license with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and will be submitting a preliminary proposal to the Department of Energy before the end of the month to store high-level nuclear waste for the federal government. … Watchdogs worry the company’s ties to Perry could create a conflict of interest. … Reed, the Texas Sierra Club official, says his primary concern is that if something goes wrong and waste isn’t properly stored, the government could ultimately end up dealing with an expensive cleanup. “Private companies…can easily go belly-up depending on short-term economic realities,” Reed said. “With radioactive waste, you really want to make sure the person watching the waste is more permanent than companies are. The real concern is companies walk away from things, and then other people are left holding the bag.”

Public works committee debating plan to privatize garbage collection in Scarborough

Source: Chris Fox, CP24.com, January 18, 2017

A proposal to privatize garbage collection in Scarborough is on the agenda today as the public works and infrastructure committee meets at city hall. Staff are recommending that the city hold a managed competition procurement process for District 4, which includes all of Scarborough, while leaving garbage collection in District 3 to unionized city workers for now. The managed competition procurement process would allow both private companies and the city’s unionized workers to submit bids. … While staff are only recommending privatizing garbage collection in Scarborough right now, the report states that the results of the change will be used as a “guide for future service delivery recommendations” in District 3, which includes the downtown neighbourhoods east of Yonge Street. Officials with CUPE Local 416 have estimated that the privatization of garbage collection in District 4 could mean the loss of 200 to 250 unionized jobs. Those job losses would come after the elimination of 150 positions when garbage collection was first privatized in the west end in 2012.

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City officials to report on privatizing trash collection east of Yonge
Source: Shawn Jeffords, Toronto Sun, November 21, 2016

The city is on track to contract out garbage collection east of Yonge St. Councillors on the public works committee voted 3-1 in favour of having city officials report early next year on a path to privatization. The committee made the move a day after Mayor John Tory told the Toronto Sun he will push to contract out garbage in the east end, arguing that it’ll save money. City council will have final say on the controversial issue at a later date. The mayor’s proposal was met with anger from the union that represents the city’s garbage collectors, insisting contracting out their work will not save taxpayers cash. Matt Figliano, of CUPE Local 416, said Tory doesn’t “have the facts.” He referred to a 2015 consultant’s report that said there was no cost savings to be had by contracting out. … The union accused Tory of attempting to fire 500 workers. If the city wants to find savings, it should eliminate managers, Figliano said. “For every four members that we have, we have one manager or supervisor that makes six figures. You’re attacking the hard-working men and women that make an average $50,000 a year. It’s a bloated bureaucracy, that’s what this is,” he said. Councillor Joe Mihevc said the city already has the right balance on trash collection that allows it to get the best cost, a mix of private and public collection. … Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong said he doubts the Ernst and Young report is correct given past experience with contracting out garbage collection in the west end. That saves the city $11.7 million a year. …

Garbage Privatization: Inside Toronto’s Two-Tier System
Source: Stefan Novakovic, Urban Toronto, November 18, 2016

Following the Ford administration’s privatization of residential garbage pick-up east of Yonge in 2011, the City of Toronto’s waste management has remained in a somewhat awkward state of semi-privatization. While residential trash west of Yonge is handled by private companies, the east end remains the purview of City service. However, with Mayor Tory now moving forward with a 2014 campaign pledge to outsource the City’s remaining garbage collection, the whole of Toronto could be moving towards private collection. But how does privatization work? And what are its impacts? In Toronto, the answers to these questions are at once relatively simple and profoundly complex. That’s because there are actually two types of privatization. While the City’s controversial outsourcing of pick-up and disposal follows a relatively straightforward process, a parallel form of privatized service follows different rules. … The privatization of service proposed by Mayor Tory follows a pair of earlier initiatives. A 1995 agreement saw pre-amalgamation Etobicoke privatize collection over two decades ago, while Rob Ford’s 2011 privatization of garbage service west of Yonge effectively bifurcated the city between public and private collection. In both instances—as in Tory’s current pitch—the outsourcing came about as a cost-saving measure. Following privatization, Etobicoke reported average annual savings of $1.8 million, while Ford’s initiative initially saw yearly costs reduced by $11.9 million. With support for Municipal service also hampered by two long and memorable garbage strikes in 2003 and 2009, the push for privatization was relatively well received in subsequent years. In particular, widespread displeasure with the 39-day garbage strike of 2009 eroded public backing for Toronto’s Civic Employees Union (CUPE). Nonetheless, some critics perceived privatized service as an inherent reduction in accountability in transparency, and as a symptom of unwillingness to adequately engage with the rights of unionized labour. …

Statement from CUPE 416 regarding city, Ernst and Young Reports regarding further contracting out of solid waste management
Source: Canadian Union of Public Employees, September 16, 2015

Earlier today, City of Toronto staff released their report on the benefits and drawbacks of contracting out solid waste management east of Yonge Street. This report was further supported by an independent analysis from accounting firm Ernst and Young. … While we strongly believe that public services like solid waste collection are best delivered directly by municipalities, the mixed model currently in effect in Toronto is an effective one which makes sense for residents.

City staff advise against contracting out east-end garbage
Source: Jennifer Pagliaro, Toronto Star, September 15, 2015

Mayor John Tory’s council allies are questioning the numbers used by city staff to recommend against contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge St. A report released Tuesday found it may actually cost more to privatize pickup in at least one east-end district despite what the city says was $11 million in annual savings from contracting out the same services in the west end. That creates a challenge for Tory, who during the mayoral election promised to privatize the remaining garbage pickup, citing cost savings — a long-held position by rivals Rob and Doug Ford. … taff tried to estimate what it might cost to contract out collection versus public service pickup over seven years, from 2017 to 2023. They compared the cost of contracted-out service in Etobicoke’s District 1 to in-house service in Scarborough’s District 4. They based the contract cost on the most recent garbage contract secured in 2014 for District 1. According to the city, those two suburban districts have comparable geography and building characteristics. Staff found the future cost reflected in present dollars of in-house service in District 4 — $96.8 million — is cheaper than assumed District 1 contracting-out costs at $116.8 million. …

Curbside Waste Collection Services Review: Comparison of Curbside Waste Collection Services East and West of Yonge Street
Source: General Manager, Solid Waste Management Services, City of Toronto, Canada, September 9, 2015

The purpose of this report is to present the findings on the comparison of curbside collection districts in terms of costs, diversion rates, service levels and performance. It also provides an analysis of the financial and collection implications associated with the scenarios for contracting out collection services east of Yonge Street (Districts 3 and 4). A review of waste collection service delivery approaches in similar jurisdictions has also been undertaken. An independent financial analysis verification of the analysis was conducted by Ernst & Young LLP and is provided in Appendix C.