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Progress continues at Perham Resource Recovery Facility

The ongoing expansion project can be seen at the resource recovery facility in Perham. Tom Hintgen/FOCUS1 / 2
Brian Schmidt, plant manager at the Perham Resource Recovery Facility, explains the new material recovery unit’s operations to county board members. Tom Hintgen/FOCUS 2 / 2

A major expansion project at the Perham Resource Recovery Facility continues to edge closer to completion.

Construction of a new material recovery facility is now more than 90 percent finished, while an expansion at the waste-energy building is more than halfway done.

The facility is owned by Otter Tail County and three partner counties (Becker, Todd and Wadena). Its purpose is to burn waste to generate steam, which Perham industries, namely Tuffy’s Pet Foods and Bongards’ Creameries, use as an energy source.

Once the improvements are complete, the facility’s solid-waste-processing capacity will be increased from 116 to 200 tons per day.

Plant manager Brian Schmidt said the expansions will also improve efficiency in operations, and reduce air emissions.

“Our expansion includes a facility to remove undesirable waste from the waste stream,” said Otter Tail County Solid Waste Director Mike Hanan. “We’ll have two burners, two waste heat boilers and an auxiliary boiler.”

County commissioners were given a tour of the facility on Feb. 27. Also on hand were representatives from the media and adjoining counties.

Final checks at the facility began last week. Training for sorters will start the week of March 10, and a performance test will begin on March 24.

“Our employee count, with the expansions, will increase from the 16 we have right now to an estimated 30 employees,” said Hanan. “This expansion benefits all the residents of Otter Tail County and adjacent counties.”

The facility is operated by  Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Authority through a joint powers agreement between Otter Tail County and the three adjoining counties.

The contractor, New York-based RRT, provides services and products for solid waste processing systems and recycling facilities. A company representative was on hand to help answer commissioners’ questions during their tour.

“A main reason behind construction of the material recovery facility is to remove items that affect air emissions from the refuse facility,” said Hanan. “The expansions will also ensure quality BTU value.”

Earlier, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency gathered input for an Environmental Assessment Worksheet, as the first step of an environmental review process. Otter Tail County and its partners agreed to continue the review process with a more detailed Environmental Impact Statement.

Last year, county commissioners sold $19.3 million in disposal revenue bonds to finance facility improvements.

The state of Minnesota is a co-signer for the bonds. Repayment will come from the net available revenues generated by the waste disposal system, in conjunction with adjoining counties.