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Tons of landfill waste turns into clean energy in Pinellas

Pinellas County has teamed up with the Green Conversion System's waste to energy plant to do something they have never done before to this extent.

Pinellas County, Florida -- This story is from 2014. We recently updated to move the video to a different location.

Pinellas County has teamed up with the Green Conversion System's waste to energy plant to do something they have never done before to this extent.

Burning waste to make energy.

"In January, we burned 8,000 tons of trash from the landfill here in St. Pete," said President of Green Conversion System Marc McMenamin.

The boilers have improved greatly since last January, where they only burned a fraction of that number.

The boilers have been improved so much that before January they could only take trash dumped at the plant from other areas of the county. Now they are so efficient they need even more trash to burn -- another 500 tons more.

"Twenty-five to thirty trucks a day drop off waste directly from the landfill, then we have hundreds of other trucks that come all day long from other parts of Pinellas County."

The trash is burned in a furnace at 2,500 degrees for 24 hours a day. The heat from the burning trash creates the steam and then the steam is channeled to the turban, or generator, and electricity is created.

In January, the 8,000 tons of trash from the landfill produced $94,000 to Pinellas County that the county sold to Duke Energy.

"The power we generate from that trash is enough to power 40,000 to 50,000 homes on an everyday basis," said McMenamin.

The process is also clean for the air.

"It becomes clean because we have an extensive pollution control equipment that is part if the process," explained McMenamin. "We have scrubbers. Which actually takes acid gasses out that come out of our boiler so there is a whole extensive system that meets all the requirements federal, local, DEP, that are strict requirements that we have to adhere to for pollution control."

The United States Department of Environmental Protection agency says waste-to-energy facilities produce electricity with less environmental impact than almost any other source of electricity.

"Energy recovery from waste is the conversion of non-recyclable waste materials into useable heat, electricity, or fuel through a variety of processes, including combustion, gasification, pyrolization, anaerobic digestion, and landfill gas (LFG) recovery. This process is often called waste-to-energy (WTE). Energy recovery from waste is part of the non-hazardouswaste management hierarchy. Converting non-recyclable waste materials into electricity and heat generates a renewable1energy source and reduces carbon emissions by offsetting the need for energy from fossil sources and reduces methane generation from landfills."

The landfill is also being preserved by taking the trash in it and burning it.

"It extends the life of the landfill for us so future generations have more room for their trash," said McMenamin.

The long term goals for the plant is to produce the most efficient boilers to burn even more reclaimed waste and provide energy to even more homes and businesses.

According to the DEP there are 86 facilities in 25 states that turn waste into energy in the United States. There have not been any new ones built since 1995, but those like the one in St. Petersburg have improved to handle additional waste to create even more electricity.

St. Petersburg, Florida -- Mayor Rick Kriseman and the St. PetersburgPolice Department will announce a new, innovative program they hopewill deter kids from bringing guns to schools.

In early 2013, following the success of the Department's Gun Bountyinitiative to get illegal guns off the street, members of the St.Petersburg Police Department came up with an idea to deter kids frombringing guns to schools.

Unlike standard police K-9 teams that are trained to perform avariety of functions, "We obtained two Labrador retrievers that arepassive, people-friendly, single-purpose dogs and trained them to searchexclusively for guns and shell casings," said Assistant Chief MelanieBevan, who spearheaded this initiative.

"To the best of our knowledge, this program is likely the only one ofits type in the nation," said Mayor Rick Kriseman, "and serves as yetanother example of our commitment to public safety and particularly thewelfare of our children."

The two Firearms Detection K-9 teams are:

St. Petersburg Police K-9 Officer Chris Ladd and his partner, Macy, achocolate Lab. Macy was donated to SPPD by Southeastern Guide Dogsafter she did not meet their criteria, yet qualified for theircareer-change program, "and became a perfect fit for our purposes,"Bevan said.

Pinellas County Schools K-9 Officer Dave Harrison and his partner,Roo, a yellow Lab. She was purchased from a vendor, using funds fromthe JAG program.

An announcement about the new program will be made at 3 p.m. today at the St. Petersburg Police Department's K-9 Compound.

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