Thursday, August 1, 2013

An inside look at Waste-to Energy

Derelict fishing gear getting ready to be recycled and turned into energy! Photo courtesy of B. Zeiber, NH Sea Grant

NHSG/UNHCE Extension Specialist, Dr. Gabby Bradt and NHSG Doyle Fellow Katherine Rafuse recently attended a reception for the Fishing For Energy Partnership and got a tour of the facility where N.H.’s marine debris — specifically, derelict fishing gear — is turned into energy.  Dr. Bradt spoke briefly about the progress of the program in NH(which is run in partnership with Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation) .
The Fishing for Energy Primary partners. Photo courtesy of B. Zeiber, NH Sea Grant
There are seven ports in northern New England that have dumpsters dedicated to derelict fishing gear, like old lobster traps, fishing nets and monofilament line. This access to dumpsters specifically for fishing gear is critical because most transfer stations won’t take the gear. This past April, the 20+ tons of derelict lobster traps that were collected from NH beaches in the Annual Lobster Trap cleanup, were taken to Covanta Energy, an energy-from-waste plant in Haverhill, Mass., as part of the NH Marine Debris to Energy Program. This program provides a safe, reliable way for fishermen and cleanup volunteers to dispose of the fishing gear they encounter at sea or on the beach.

More than two million pounds of derelict fishing gear has been collected as part of NOAA’s nationwide Marine Debris to Energy Program since 2008. NOAA has partnered with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Schnitzer Steel and Covanta Energy to continue providing the services necessary to collect and convert 300,000 pounds of fishing gear annually into energy for use in our homes.
Fishing rope, derelict lobster traps and other fishing debris. Photo courtesy of B. Zeiber, NH Sea Grant
As a mass-burn facility, Covanta does not need to break down the trash and fishing gear before combusting it. They first recycle whatever they can and remove anything radioactive. Whatever is left gets visually inspected, piled up and picked up by a giant claw and placed in the boiler for combustion.

This Covanta plant has pollution control technologies associated with it, so it’s more than just an incinerator. It captures the energy from the process and sells about 40 Megawatts per hour to the utility companies, or about 1,000 Megawatts per day, powering approximately 40,000 homes in a city the size of Haverhill, said Joe Becker, facility manager at Covanta.

L-R: NHSG Doyle Fellow, Katherine Rafuse, NFWF coordinator, Erin Hoffman, NOAA Marine Debris Program Deputy Director, Nanacy Wallace and NHSG Fisheries Extension Specialist, Dr. Gabby Bradt. Photo courtesy of B. Zeiber, NH Sea Grant

For more information on the energy-from-waste process, please visit:

By Rebecca Zeiber
NH Sea Grant, Communications

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Heading to the Shoals, Again

(the following was reprinted from Blue Ocean Society's May 2013 Enewsletter)

This week, we're donning our hard hats and heading out to the Isles of Shoals for another cleanup at Appledore Island. Appledore is the largest of this group of nine islands that lie 5 miles off the coast of Kittery, ME and Rye, NH.

Cleanup Team, September 2012 aboard the fishing vessel Yesterday's Storm

Why the hard hats? While we don't expect any trash to drop on our heads, we are wary of gulls, who nest on the island at this time of year and vigorously defend their nests. During this cleanup, we'll be surveying and removing debris from three spots on the island - three spots we cleaned last year in June, and again in September.

Some of the findings on Appledore Island, June 2012

There's a few reasons for picking these spots. A resurvey will help us figure out how long it takes for marine debris to accumulate in these areas, and what type of debris is washing up. They are also three spots on the island that are less inhabited by gulls at this time of year.

Last year, five of us picked up 557 pounds of debris in 5 hours. This was the first time these 3 areas had been cleaned-up, so we are hoping for less debris this time, but are interested to see what is out there after the stormy winter we had.  We'll keep you posted, and will also post some pictures and updates here on our blog!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

There's Lots of Debris, Even in Cold Weather

26 Volunteers picked up 272 pounds of litter during the National Day of Service cleanup at Foss Beach in Rye, NH

This past Saturday (January 19), we cleaned-up Foss Beach in Rye, NH as part of the National Day of Service. The cleanup showed that even in the middle of winter, litter is prevalent on our local beaches - but on a positive note, a big cleanup can be done in a short amount of time!

The cleanup resulted the removal of 272 pounds of marine debris. The 26 volunteers recorded 445 pieces of litter, including: 

11 Gloves
54 Nets/bait bags
3 Floats/buoys
9 Pieces of fishing Line
109 Pieces of Rope >1 m, and 94 pieces of smaller rope
49 Beverage cans
4 Glass bottles
1 Six-pack ring
1 Pile of dog waste (bagged)
27 Plastic bags
41 Plastic bottles
5 Bottle caps
1 Motor oil container
3 Cigarette butts
3 Styrofoam cups
5 Strapping bands (Plus more than 200 other straps, which may have been zip ties (cable ties)). 

Other items of note included a large float bag, a fishing lure, a shotgun shell, 3 combs, 2 shoes, a plastic pail, a rubber boat mat, 3 spoons, a pair of sunglasses, 3 hats, 45 lobster bands and 8 golf balls.

This data will help us learn about trends in marine pollution, help target pollution prevention programs and be used to educate in our school programs and as we speak to other audiences throughout the year.

Want to join us for a cleanup? Check out our schedule of monthly cleanups here.