Contact: Lindsey Sampson, Lee County Solid Waste Division
              (239) 338-3302


FORT MYERS, Fla. (August 2, 2004) - Lee County will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its award-winning Waste-to-Energy Facility this Saturday, August 7, with a ceremony, free food and public tours at the plant.

The event will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the facility, 10500 Buckingham Road, east of I-75 just past the SR 82 (MLK Blvd.)/Buckingham Road intersection on Buckingham Road. A ceremony attended by County Commissioners will be at 10 a.m. with Commission Chairman John Albion serving as master of ceremonies.

Activities will include tours of the Waste-to-Energy Facility and recycling plant, free food and refreshments, and prizes and souvenirs. The county is encouraging residents who have never seen the facility to attend and receive a free tour.

The plant - also called the Resource Recovery Facility or incinerator - was completed in August 1994 and disposes of the county's garbage by burning it and generating electricity from a steam driven turbine. The facility burns 395,000 tons of garbage a year and generates up to 34 megawatts of electricity - or enough to power about 30,000 homes.

Since it began operations, the WTE plant has processed 4 million tons of garbage. The plant and its ancillary facilities were funded through $197 million of bonds. At the time, the project was controversial because of environmental fears by some, but those concerns have been allayed over the past 10 years.

The plant exceeds strict environmental and emissions standards and has been the recipient of many awards since opening, including the Power Engineering and Power Engineering International magazines' 1995 Project of the Year Award, the 1996 Environmental Citizen of the Year Award from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the 1999 Waste-to-Energy Excellence Gold Award from The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), and the 2001 Facility Recognition Award from The Solid Waste Processing Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

The county currently is in the process of expanding the facility from a capacity of 1,200 tons per day to 1,800 tons per day by adding a third, 600-ton combustion unit. The $85-million expansion is needed to keep up the area's tremendous growth and increased generation of garbage. Construction is expected to be completed sometime in 2006.

Some fun facts about the WTE facility:

  It has taken 307,693 garbage trucks to bring that 4 million tons to the facility.

  If lined up end to end, those trucks would stretch 1,806 miles, a line from here to Eastport, Maine.