Project Description

WTE and Marine Transfer Complex

SPSA Waste-to-Energy Complex
Portsmouth, Virginia

The Southeastern Public Service Administration (SPSA) engaged Michael Singer Studio to investigate environmental and aesthetic improvements of their facilities along Victory Boulevard and Elm Avenue in Portsmouth, Virginia, and to facilitate SPSA meetings with the neighboring communities. SPSA facilities included a waste-to-energy (WTE) facility, a refuse derived fuel (RDF) facility and a potential out-of-area waste marine transfer port proposed by Covanta Energy. The proposed marine transfer facility would ship waste in sealed containers from other regions via barge rather than the current trucking methods. SPSA has experienced difficult relations with its surrounding communities, especially adjacent to their waste processing facilities. Michael Singer Studio interviewed community leaders, environmental advocacy groups, government representatives and SPSA employees to gather information about opportunities to improve the SPSA facilities and note ways to establish better relations and partnerships with Portsmouth and the neighboring communities of the RDF and WTE power plant.

The Singer Studio “Preliminary Site Analysis and Planning Report” identified short-term actions related to existing concerns regarding odor, noise, litter, appearance, and pollution. The Singer Studio Report posed a series of critical questions about the importation of out-of-area waste for an open dialogue with the community. While not directly supporting the proposed Covanta Energy marine transfer facility, the Report suggested that if SPSA elected to proceed with the project it should leverage the project investment into a more holistic system of waste processing, recycling and WTE. The Report recommended a series of long-term project goals including integrating systems for a future eco-industrial park on adjacent brownfields by leveraging economic investments from out-of-area waste and existing steam, heat, power, materials and transport infrastructure. The Singer Studio report defined a clear set of goals and priorities that established feasible community expectations and helped to initiate a Portsmouth SPSA Community Review Committee.

The Covanta Energy marine transfer station project was ultimately abandoned by SPSA and several years later SPSA decided to sell its WTE facility to Wheelabrator Technologies, a subsidiary of Waste Management. The WTE facility continues to operate and generates enough power to supply approximately 60,000 homes in the region according to Wheelabrator Technologies.

Artist / Designer: Michael Singer
Singer Studio Design Team: Jason Bregman, Calen Colby PE and
Singer Studio Public Policy Advisor: Nancy Rutledge Connery
SPSA Project Manager: Felecia Blow, SPSA Director of Public Relations
Participating Stakeholders: Marjorie Mayfield Jackson, Executive Director,
Elizabeth River Project, Leroy Bennett, Chairman of the SPSA Board of Directors,
Suffolk Council Member, Dottie Wyatt, Cradock resident and former Chair of the
Civic League of Cradock, John Maher, Chief of Staff, Office of the City Manager,
City of Portsmouth, Bob Baldwin AICP, Director, Department of Planning,
City of Portsmouth

WTE and Marine Transfer Complex