Emerald Coast Utilities Authority's (ECUA) odorous out-dated Main Street Wastewater Treatment Plant (MSWWTP), originally designed and constructed in 1937, continues its transformation from a community eyesore into an environmental lesson on construction and demolition (C&D) material recovery, a recycling process that achieves lower costs than disposal at a landfill, resulting in significant cost-savings and the elimination of associated environmental impacts.

The 19 acre downtown site, between Main and Government Streets, underwent numerous expansions in the 1970s and mid-1990s before it was officially taken off-line, Thursday, April 28, 2011. On that date, ECUA Board members-Chairman Elvin McCorvey, then Vice Chairman Dale Perkins, Ms. Lois Benson, Dr. Larry Walker, and Ms. Elizabeth Campbell-threw a symbolic power switch in the OASES Control Room, silencing for good, the facility’s operations. 

Now, one year after ceasing operations, “Old Stinky,” the name affectionately given to the facility by local media representatives, has emerged as an environmental success story. Sustainable reuse of the MSWWTP property includes a defined effort to reduce the environmental impact by reusing and recycling materials recovered during the present demolition process.

Chuck Gray, Cross Environment Services (CES) demolition general manager said, “In just a few short months, the site will be leveled with sod and grass, and will be a welcomed addition to the Pensacola landscape.”

Preliminary estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that the nation generates millions of tons of building related C&D materials. According to the most recent data available, nearly 53% of all building-related C&D materials are the result of demolition activities.

To successfully dismantle the former MSWWTP facility, brick-by-brick, cement block-by-cement block, piece-by-piece of steel and aluminum, Cross Environmental Services of Crystal Springs, Florida (CES) was chosen to skipper the project. The “Eco-Friendly” Contractor was the lowest project bidder, posting a winning bid of $734,617, considerably less than the projected 3 million dollar demolition price tag.

According to Jeff Hester, CES demolition supervisor, “The lower pricing will be offset by revenue generated from recyclables. Typical recyclable materials such as; aluminum, steel, copper, ductile iron pipe, are currently being sold to buyers locally, domestically, and internationally.”  Hester added, “The boiler was sold to a company in North Carolina, the air tanks went to Seattle, the switch gears found a home in Oklahoma, and the pumps were shipped to Chattanooga, Tennessee.”

Gray added, “The project has come in above average on the amount of salvage we estimated for the job.” As of May 4, 2012, 545 pieces of material have been recovered, totaling 8,283,455 pounds of recyclables. The individual piece breakdown includes; 460 Ferrous/8,006,336 lbs., 47 Aluminum@145,119 lbs., 4 Brass@1,929 lbs., 18 Copper@55,671 lbs., and 85 Stainless Steel@277,119 lbs.

The benefit of C&D recycling has made a direct impact on the local Pensacola economy, creating new jobs with additional employment activities, and providing environmental stewardship in an effort to conserve landfill space, and save money by reducing the MSWWTP demolition project’s disposal and transportation costs.