Delaware County solid waste bioreactor needs replacing

Nov. 17—After 18 years of use, the bioreactor at the Delaware County Solid Waste Management Center & Compost Facility in Walton is in need of replacing.

The 160-foot wide, 14-foot around bioreactor sits inside the three-acre structure at the facility. According to a case study by BioCycle, the structure includes a tipping floor, bioreactor, primary screening trommel, secondary sorting line, the maturation area with the Siemens/IPS (now BDP) Composting System, final screening system, aerated final product storage area, recycling and residue roll-off containers and a compost load-out truck bay.

The bioreactor is the first stop in the county's effort to divert organic waste from the landfill, Tyson Robb, solid waste coordinator, said. More than 50% of the material the facility receives is organic material, such as paper plates or toilet paper rolls. The organic material is placed in the bioreactor.

"It's important to remove half of the material slated for the landfill," he said. Delaware County sits in the New York City Watershed and is hampered by regulations as to where a landfill could be sited. To extend the life of the current landfill, the county officials decided in 1996 to ask for proposals to add a composting facility to the landfill, a 2006 BioCycle article said. The building was completed in 2005.

It cost $20 million to build and was funded by a $2 million recycling grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, a $11.5 million bond from the state Environmental Facilities Corporation, and $7.5 million from county solid waste funds.

"Delaware County was ahead of the state," he said. The new state solid waste management plan is in sync with what the county is already doing.

Since 2005, the bioreactor has been processing organic material. It is designed to process 120 tons of material per day, the report said. It starts the process of turning organic material and solid waste from wastewater treatment plants into usable soil. The bioreactor turns mixing the components together for three days, and the drum is is discharged simultaneously with the loading process, over an eight-to-10-hour period.

The bioreactor is made from rolled steel and has been developing cracks off and on since it was two years old, Robb said. "We've been able to stitch it back together," he said. "The maintenance team has done a really nice job maintaining the bioreactor." However, it's nearing the end of its life and "it's probably time to work toward getting a new one," he said.

Replacing the bioreactor will cost between $5 million and $6 million because the building will have to be renovated so the old one can be removed and the new one added, Robb said. It will probably take one year from the date ordered to get the new bioreactor.

The county funds the facility by using 1% of its sales tax earnings, the report said.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7221.