Covanta starts work on $30 million Niagara Falls project

September 9, 2013 Updated Sep 9, 2013 at 4:29 PM EDT

By David Bertola, Reporter- Buffalo Business First

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Covanta starts work on $30 million Niagara Falls project

September 9, 2013 Updated Sep 9, 2013 at 4:29 PM EDT

Work has begun on $30 million of brownfield remediation and infrastructure upgrades at Covanta Energy's Niagara Falls waste-to-energy plant.

Covanta Niagara's business manager, Kevin O’Neil, says the projects could be completed by the end of next year or in early 2015.

Covanta Energy is the world’s largest converter of waste to energy. The Niagara plant, located on 56th Street, is one of 44 the company operates in the continental United States.

The plant, which opened in 1978, employs 93. It burns 821,000 pounds of household and other waste annually, which it converts to steam and energy that’s added to the power grid. Upgrades call for soil remediation and construction of a new railyard, both of which could be completed late next year or early 2015. Construction is expected to begin before November.

The Morristown, N.J.-based company is making the investment on the heels of a 20-year contract with the New York City Department of Sanitation. An estimated 800,000 pounds of waste will be transported from New York’s Upper East Side and Queens to Covanta’s plants in Niagara Falls and Pennsylvania. The company announced the new contract in August.

O’Neil says the Falls plant will phase out the hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash it receives from Canada, and phase in New York City trash. The new contract, he says, doesn’t mean that the company will be increasing the amount of trash it receives or converts to energy. Instead, he said it's simply changing the direction from which it comes.

“In general terms, the Canadian waste is out, New York City waste is in,” he said.