Extended periods of rain are not good for beachgoers, construction workers and, as it turns out, Bay County's incinerator. The recent round of wet weather disrupted plant operations, according to the facility's manager.
As of Monday, the incinerator was fully operational and waste haulers were once again rolling onto the scales. Wet garbage doesn't burn efficiently and that shut down one of the plant's two units for about a week and a half.
"With all the rain in July, we had a lot of water to deal with," said Joe Tannehill, Jr. of Engen, the company that operates the incinerator for the county. "The amount of garbage stacking up inside our refuse building has gone [and] we really had a mess in there."
Engen implemented its "bypass" policy and sent some haulers directly to the Steelfield Landfill. While that inconvenienced haulers – and cost them extra money – Engen used the downtime for quality control. It has been about six months since the incinerator went back online after a major fire shut it down for a year.
"We wanted to get inside the boilers, get inside the furnace and just take stock of how things are wearing," Tannehill said. "We went inside and took some samples of boiler tubes."
Tannehill said everything appeared to be okay inside the incinerator, but water samples have been sent to a lab to determine whether the levels of corrosive agents are within acceptable ranges.
"The process of burning garbage is destructive and it's always one where you can never feel like everything is running perfectly," Tannehill said. "There's always a new challenge every day."