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What is WASTEC?

Chris Mazzolini

WASTEC is a fancy, acronym-sounding name for New Hanover County’s “waste-to-energy” facility, located at 3002 U.S. Highway 421 North, Wilmington [Map this].

That’s a fancy way of describing a plant that burns your trash to makes electricity. The county built WASTEC in the early 1980s as a way to take pressure off the garbage dump (aka, the landfill) and to make some cash selling power to energy utilities.

Here’s how it works: Trucks dump trash off in a big pit. A giant claw lifts it and loads it into a boiler, which burns it. That process triggers some generators, which make electricity. The left-over ash is used as daily cover at the landfill.

WASTEC has been a touchy issue for the county through the years. Politicians regularly threaten to shut it down because it’s expensive. So far, it’s survived. Emphasis on so far, since the county is shopping for companies to handle its garbage, so WASTEC’s head is again on the chopping block.

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