News Column

$102,000: Hampton/NASA steam plant

June 27, 2014

By Ali Rockett, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

June 27--Editor's note: This is part of an everyday series exploring individual line items in state and local budgets. Read the entire series at

POQUOSON -- The city sent nearly 3,000 tons of household trash to be burned at a steam plant in Hampton to power NASA Langley this year.

It cost the city about $102,000 in tipping fees, according to the fiscal year 2014 budget.

Theresa Owens, the city's finance director, said trucking trash to the plant, which is only 3.8 miles outside Poquoson, rather than the 12.4 mile round trip to the Bethel Landfill in Hampton, saves on fuel costs and ultimately reduces the overall cost to residents. She couldn't say exactly how much it saved because the city hasn't done an analysis recently.

"With the increase in the cost of fuel, the total cost of going to the landfill would be higher," she said. "Burning trash to produce electricity also helps the environment because our waste is being used as an alternative fuel, rather than just being buried in a landfill. Waste-to-energy is often mentioned as a way to reduce our use of fossil fuels and therefore our carbon footprint."

Only household refuse from Poquoson and Hampton residents goes to the steam plant. The rest goes to the Bethel Landfill in Hampton.

Rockett can be reached by phone at 757-247-4942.


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