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H-POWER business manager Rodney Smith said that the number of people yesterday made walking tours impractical. He noted that smaller groups can arrange private tours by calling 682-2099.
The plant takes raw garbage delivered by city and private garbage trucks six days a week and burns 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, except for repairs and maintenance, Smith said.
The plant has operated since 1990 and has consistently exceeded its contract requirement to process 561,600 tons of raw garbage a year, Smith said.
"Since 1990 when we started operation, we've converted 9 million tons of waste into electricity -- 5 percent of the electricity used on Oahu, or enough to power 40,000 homes," plant manager Robert Webster enthusiastically told the first bus-load of visitors yesterday.
"Waste is our fuel," Webster said, and it's a renewable one. "People make waste every day, rain or shine, whether the wind is blowing or not. Today's waste is tomorrow's electricity."
Many attending the first-ever "open house" at the plant said that they also think expanding it should be part of Oahu's waste-management future.
"It's definitely the best way -- better than using the landfill," said Joe Fulton.
Herbert Chang of Moanalua said he was impressed to learn that by generating electricity with garbage, H-POWER saves Oahu 800,000 barrels of oil a year.
It also has remained well within state and federal standards for air pollution emissions, said Brian Bahor, a Covanta vice president for environmental planning.
Control room monitors of actual plant emissions yesterday reflected that record. Emissions for sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulates and opaque smoke were well within guidelines.
Doyle has told the City Council that he recommends the city buy the plant from its owners, Ford Motor Co. and Credit Corp., in addition to paying for the expansion. Full financial information on the proposal wasn't available yesterday.
Smith said yesterday that the city paid off bonds used to originally finance the plant's construction and is leasing the building back from the owners. The arrangement made financial sense for the city at the time, he said.
Covanta employs 150 workers at the plant, with a payroll of $10 million. If the city buys the plant, its intention is to continue contracting with Covanta to operate it.
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