FULL OF SCRAP A big stink and bigger charge over renegade salt cake

Oct 01, 2007 | 02:09 PM |

Some of the hardest-to-get-rid-of business headaches come from things that go wrong only occasionally.

Take the leftovers from making secondary aluminum from scrap. The dross that forms at the surface has enough aluminum to be worth its own recycling process, often done by a different company. Eventually, one is left with a residue called salt cake, ideally with minimal aluminum but containing soluble salts from the flux and nonmetallic oxides. That typically goes to a landfill.

Paul Schaffer
Paul Schaffer
At a reasonably modern landfill, most of the time the stuff sits dormant. But when Murphy's Law kicks in, the result can be what Will Flower of Republic Services Inc. refers to as his company's "$22-million headache."

Approximately 1 million short tons of aluminum dross residue went to the Countywide Recycling & Disposal facility in East Sparta, Ohio, starting in 1991, much of it when Waste Management Inc. was the owner of the 818-acre site. Waste Management, sold it to third-ranked Republic, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1999. Two years later, Republic stopped accepting aluminum dross waste at Countywide, and last year it banned all aluminum wastes at Countywide and extended its dross waste ban to all Republic facilities in 21 states.....

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