In the early 1980's, the primary waste disposal concern was our landfill space was filling up and we would soon be out of disposal capacity. How many of us remember the story about the garbage barge that sailed out of the New York harbor looking for a landfill home for its load of waste. That particular barge caught the attention of the world as it sailed up and down the east coast for several years.
Because of landfill space, issues with groundwater pollution, and public sentiment of 'Not in My Backyard' many counties in Minnesota, including Otter Tail, began to look for alternatives to landfilling of solid waste. By the late 1980's and early 1990's as many as 46 counties in Minnesota sent their waste to 17 facilities such as Municipal Waste Incinerators, Municipal Waste Compost Facilities and Refuse Derived Fuel Facilities. In Otter Tail County our waste goes to 2 Municipal Waste Incinerators / Resource Recovery Facilities.
Resource Recovery Facility: Perham
The Resource Recovery Facility in Perham was constructed and began operations in 1986.
The facility operated continuously, burning waste and supplying steam to both Tuffy's and Land O' Lakes until July of 1998. In July of 1998 the facility closed because it was unable to meet the permit requirements for air emissions. In December of 1998, the original owners donated the facility and the property to the City of Perham. Soon thereafter the City of Perham, Otter Tail County, and the surrounding three counties made a decision to apply for state grant funding and to reconstruct and reopen the Perham Resource Recovery Facility.
With the assistance of state funding the facility was reconstructed, including state of the art air emissions equipment, new combustion technology, improved ash handling and the ability to generate electric energy as a revenue source. After an extensive shake down the facility has been operational since 2002 and meets or exceeds all new proposed air quality standards.