The Role of Permits

For every industrial plant, operators are required to go through a "permitting" process. This ensures that the operation is as safe and as clean as possible - for the employees who work in the plant, the neighbors who live in the area, and for the environment. The federal, state, and local governments all have important roles in this process. Waste-to-energy plants are among the most heavily regulated projects in the United States.

There are tens of thousands of pages of government rules and regulations that guide the construction and operation of a modern waste-to-energy plant. These guidelines result in "permits", which consists of hundreds of pages of daily, monthly, and yearly requirements for how we run our plant. For a list of the major permits that Wheelabrator North Andover complies with, click here.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and the Town of North Andover Board of Health and Planning Board are all responsible for issuing and overseeing these permits for the facility. The diligence of these regulators, and the experience and commitment of our operators here at the plant, together guarantee the clean, safe operation of Wheelabrator North Andover.

What is "Compliance"?

Wheelabrator North Andover is deeply committed to operate as safely as possible, and to meet and exceed all of the laws, regulations and permit limits that apply to our plant. We have a strong track record in this area, both here in Massachusetts and at Wheelabrator waste-to-energy projects nationwide.

Determining compliance requires a complicated analysis of many different components. For example, when we turn on our water faucet at home after a long absence, the water isn't immediately as pure as we would like - or as clean as it is required to be by law. And when you start your car on a cold winter morning, your engine takes a while to begin working at its peak efficiency and properly control tailpipe emissions. In both cases, the technologies we depend on just need a chance to "warm up." Overall, your water quality at home, your tailpipe emissions from your automobile and the emissions from a modern trash-to-energy facility are in compliance with the regulations or "permitted limits".

Startups, Shutdowns and Malfunctions

Similarly, our plant is subject to startup and shutdown situations, when trash supply, maintenance, or other mechanical malfunctions may temporarily interrupt operations. On an annual basis, this is generally less than 1 percent of the time. During these times, we work hard to ensure that the maximum environmental operation of the plant - and our full "compliance" with our permits - is restored as quickly as possible. In most cases, government regulations and our permits anticipate these interruptions by requiring the plant to meet average environmental limits over set periods of time.

For more information on the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, visit EPA’s site at

Wheelabrator North Andover
285 Holt Rd.
North Andover, Massachusetts, U.S. 01845
Tel: 978.688.9011

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