MARTINSBURG. W.Va. — The Entsorga Waste-to-Fuel plant in Martinsburg has been idle since April of 2022, but Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority Chair Clint Hogbin says there have been some developments.

“We, the Solid Waste Authority, have been executing a series of steps in the written lease agreement between the two entities. They’re basically steps where we say, ‘You failed to do this – you have so many days to cure the default,” he says.

Part of the steps involved notifying the bondholders, the financial entities that put up the money to build the facility. “On May 28th all those default periods had come and went and now the facility is now under the full control of the Solid Waste Authority. We get to control its future,” Hogbin says.

On Wednesday, the board will consider a request from the bondholders for a 60-day extension, another is the idea for a request for proposal (RFP) for both short or long term solutions for the facility.
“In the past 14 months, we’ve had at literally ten different companies contact us, tour the facility and say they’re interested in doing something similar at that operation,” according to Hogbin.

Trade publication Waste Dive said the $33 million plant in Martinsburg could process “110,000 tons per year of mixed waste into solid recovered fuel (after recovering certain recyclables) for use in facilities such as cement kilns” during its operation.

Hogbin says, “We want to do something similar to what’s already being done there. We want to take solid waste in some form or fashion do something that is an alternative to landfilling there.”

He says while Entsorga was operational, it did what it was supposed to do. “It’s our view that the technology did not fail. The technology worked. It was a business arrangement between Entsorga and Argos that failed.”

Prior to its closure, the waste-to-fuel plant sold its product to Argos, a local cement plant in Martinsburg.

One of the companies showing an interest in acquiring the operation is local waste hauler Apple Valley Waste, which stepped up to clean out the building. When Enstorga shuttered its doors last year, the plant was almost completely full of trash, or raw materials for its fuel – as much as 512,000 cubic feet of trash, in fact, which caused fires to sporadically break out in the building over a matter of months.

Hogbin says while the cleanup efforts would not necessarily put Apple Valley Waste in the front of the line as entities line up to acquire the waste-to-fuel plant, he would like to see the company get some reimbursement for their efforts.

As the process unfolds, Hogbin is still dealing with a budget deficit. Entsorga stopped paying an agreed-to fee for leasing 12 acres of land in the county and using the building. Over 14 months, Hogbin says, “We’re down about $200,000. since they closed, so it’s been a substantial impact on our operations.”
It’s meant shutting down some programs. Hogbin says they’ve also gotten an assist from the county council and the state’s recycling assistance grant program.