Southeast Resource Recovery Facility (SERRF) Brochure


Rapid economic development and expanding population growth in Southern California has led to an ever-increasing quantity of solid waste. Citizens and businesses in the City of Long Beach alone generate about 368,000 tons of residential, commercial, and industrial waste each year. Long Beach, like other Southern California communities, had historically trucked its solid waste to neighborhoods outside the City for burial in landfills. Closure of a nearby landfill in 1980 led to a realization that Long Beach could no longer rely on the export of its solid waste to other neighborhoods.

The City of Long Beach set in motion a comprehensive solid waste management strategy. A source reduction and recycling program was developed to reduce the amount of waste to be managed and to reduce the consumption of natural resources. Solid waste is sent to SERRF where it is processed through one of three boilers. In addition, SERRF performs "front-end" and "back-end" recycling by recovering such items as white goods prior to incineration and collection metals removed from the boilers after incineration. Each month, an average 825 tons of metal are recycled rather than sent to a landfill.

As a public service and at the request of law enforcement agencies within California, SERRF began destroying narcotics and drug related paraphernalia in 1992. The program has been a tremendous success. SERRF has destroyed an average of 17,000 pounds of narcotics each month. This commitment by the City of Long Beach to assist in the removal of illegal narcotics from our cities' streets has saved law enforcement agencies hundreds of man hours and thousands of dollars in alternative disposal costs.


1. Tipping Hall - Solid waste is delivered to SERRF in trucks. Each truck is screened for radioactive material while being weighed in by a computerized scale system. The trucks then drive into the enclosed tipping hall where they discharge their load. The refuse is again inspected for unprocessible waste and pushed into the refuse storage pit by a front end loader. The refuse storage pit has a 5,000 ton capacity, enough to run the facility for three to four days. The entire storage pit area is enclosed and air is continuously drawn from the pit area and sent through the boilers to remove dust and odor which are destroyed by the high temperatures in the furnace. Carbon filters are used for order control at times when the boilers are shut down for maintenance.

2. Furnace - The waste is lifted out of the storage pit by overhead cranes and dropped into a refuse feed hopper. At the bottom of the feed chute, hydraulic rams push the refuse into the boiler where it is burned under controlled conditions. The heat generated by burning the refuse converts water flowing through tubes in the boiler into steam. The floor of the furnace contains moving grates that push the burning refuse through the boiler. When refuse passes through the boiler, the resultant ash is discharged into a quench tank. The quench tank, which is filled with water, cools and eliminates dispersion of the ash. A Thermal DeNox system, which injects ammonia into the boiler's bum chamber, is used to control nitrogen oxides.

3. Dry Scrubber
After leaving the boiler, the combustion gases travel through a state-of-the-art pollution control system. The dry scrubber neutralizes acid gasses, such as sulfur dioxide and hydrochloric acid, by spraying a lime slurry into the exhaust stream. In excess of 95% of sulfur dioxide and hydrochloric acid are removed in this process. The reacted lime and ash are removed from the bottom of the scrubber.

4. Baghouse
The baghouse operates like a gigantic vacuum cleaner. As the air is drawn through the baghouse, particulate matter and fly ash are trapped in the bags. Each boiler has a baghouse that contains ten modules with bags made of fiberglass. The baghouse is cleaned by blowing air, in the reverse direction, through the bags. The particulate and fly ash are removed from the bottom. This process removes 99.5% of the particulate matter in the airstream down to sub-microscopic levels. After leaving the baghouse, the cleaned exhaust gases exit through a 265-foot tri-flue stack. Emissions are monitored by a combination of continuous monitors and periodic stack sampling.

5. Generator - The steam generated from burning the refuse is used to drive the turbine-generator producing electricity. Some of the electricity produced is used to operate the facility and the remainder is sold to Southern California Edison (SCE) for distribution to its customers. The steam used to drive the turbine-generator is then sent to a condenser where it is converted into water and recycled back through the boilers.

6. Ash Conveyors
The ash from the furnace, dry scrubber, and baghouse is treated and transported to the landfill where it is used as road base material.


SERRF, which began commercial operation in July 1988, is a publicly-owned solid waste management facility that uses mass burn technology to reduce the volume of solid waste by about 80%, while recovering electrical energy.

Residential and commercial solid waste is combusted in high temperature boilers to produce steam which in turn is used to run the turbine-generator producing electricity. The electricity is used to operate the facility with the remainder sold to SCE. SERRF processes an average of 1,290 tons of municipal solid waste each day and generates up to 36 megawatts of electricity. SERRF has sold to SCE in excess of 1½ billion kilowatts of electricity.

Plainly put, SERRF generates enough power each year to supply 35,000 residential homes with electricity and has reduced the volume of solid waste entering a landfill by over four million cubic yards. That's equivalent to trash the length and width of a football field piled three times the height of the Empire State Building.

Since the facility began operation, SERRF has processed over 3.5 million tons of solid waste in an environmentally safe and responsible manner. Using state-of-the-art pollution control technology, SERRF has been able to greatly reduce the amount of pollutants that naturally form during the combustion of refuse.

SERRF is equipped with The Best Available Control Technology (BACT). Air emissions which result from burning waste are controlled by several measures. SERRF uses ammonia to control nitrogen oxides, lime slurry to control sulfur oxides and acid gases, and a multi-chamber fabric filter baghouse for removal of particulate matter. When the flue gas is finally ready to exit the baghouse, it is discharged through a 265-foot tri-flue stack where emissions are monitored by a combination of continuous monitors and periodic stack sampling.


·         SERRF produces enough electricity to furnish more than 35,000 homes with electrical power.

·         SERRF processes an average 1,290 tons of municipal solid waste each day.

·         SERRF recycles an average 825 tons of ferrous metals each month.

·         SERRF destroys an average 17,000 pounds of law enforcement confiscated narcotics each month.

·         SERRF ash residue is treated and used at a local landfill as road base material.

·         SERRF's pollution control system removes 95% of sulfur dioxide and hydrochloric acid.

·         SERRF's pollution control equipment removes 99.5% of the particulate matter from the gas exhausted. 

In addition to air emissions, ground water contamination from ash is an environmental concern which SERRF has addressed. Boiler ash, a by-product of incineration, is controlled by the Wes-PHix ash immobilization process. This process adds phosphates and portland cements to the ash thereby reducing the solubility of heavy metals found in ash. Due to this process and the "back-end" recycling of metals, SERRF ash is being used at the local landfill as road base material.


COST: $108,000,000

FINANCIAL: $142,800,000 in lease revenue bonds sold by the SERRF authority. The City leases the facility and makes rental payments totaling $12,700,000 per year.

DAILY CAPACITY: 1,380 tons per day of solid waste. Gross electrical generating capacity of 36 megawatts.

AIR EMISSIONS: SERRF is equipped with the best available air emissions control technology. Additionally, the boilers were designed to minimize the formation of trace toxic air contaminants.

ASH RESIDUE: Treated combustion ash is non-hazardous under federal and state test procedures. SERRF ash is treated and used at a local landfill as road base material.

RECYCLING: Source reduction and recycling will reduce the amount of waste managed and reduce consumption of natural resources and the environmental damage associated with such use. Recycling benefits SERRF by removing non-combustible materials that have minimal fuel value or can cause operational problems.

More information regarding SERRF can be obtained by contacting the Energy Recovery Bureau at (562) 570-7840,
120 Pier S Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802.

More information on the City's Source Reduction and Recycling Program can be obtained by contacting the City's Integrated Resources Bureau at (562) 570-2850, 2929 E. Willow Street, Long Beach, CA 90806.

This information is available in an alternative format by request to: Energy Recovery Bureau at (562) 570-7840,
120 Pier S Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802. 

Owner: SERRF JPA consisting of City of Long Beach/Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County
General Counsel: City Attorney/City of Long Beach
Auditor: City Auditor/City of Long Beach
Controller: Dept. of Financial Management/City of Long Beach
Operator:  Covanta Long Beach Renewable Energy Corp

City of Long Beach Energy Recovery Bureau
120 Pier S Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802