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Ames Fire Department responds to fire at Resource Recovery Plant

Around 4:20 a.m. Tuesday, the Resource Recovery Plant (RRP) in Ames called the fire department to control a fire that spread into the piping system. No injuries were reported.

The Ames Fire Department stated in a Facebook post that the RRP staff is prepared to extinguish small fires but needed assistance in this instance. No damage was reported to the RRP systems.

“In a very minimal amount of downtime, we were able to, with the help of the fire department, get the fire suppressed, get everything cleaned up and patched up in our ductwork, and then basically start back up again. So I think we were up and running by close to 10:00 this morning,” said Mark Peebler, the resource recovery assistant superintendent.

The RRP recycles metals and glass materials from the Ames community. Magnets separate recyclable metals from other waste; the metal is reprocessed and sold to scrap metal dealers. The waste that cannot be recycled is, “…Refuse Derived Fuel, or RDF, which is piped to the City’s power plant. It is used as a RESPONSIBLE, SUSTAINABLE, and LOCAL supplemental fuel in the natural gas boilers to generate electricity. This way we help to conserve precious fossil fuels,” according to the City of Ames website.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources authorized the facility to operate and burn specific materials and certain rates. The permit allows the facility to burn RDF up to 30% by weight. “We start by choosing a good RDF to gas ratio to produce a good, stable burn. If we approach this weight limit, we add natural gas to the fuel mix to reduce RDF/natural gas ratio until we hit a similar physical constraint as seen with coal,” according to the City of Ames website.

Non-burnable materials are shredded and sent to landfills.

Community members can participate in the RRP’s efforts in many ways. The facility works with public and private waste management systems to receive trash from the community and accepts old appliances for a fee, batteries, technology and construction debris.

“The biggest precautions would [include] being mindful of what people are throwing away — residents and businesses — as far as household hazardous waste materials and batteries. Batteries or lithium-ion batteries are the number one cause of fires here at our facility. So if people dispose of them properly, that’s very beneficial to us as well,” Peebler said.

A way to dispose of lithium batteries is to drop them off 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at 410 E 2nd St. in Ames so the RRP can dispose of them safely.

The City of Ames website offers informational resources regarding the RRP and how to properly dispose of common variations of waste.

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