Landfill to possibly capture methane, could lower fees

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Officials with Legacy Landfill told Region 8 News Friday it could build a system to harvest methane gas from each of four sites. The landfill, which is the only active landfill in Craighead County, has four cells where trash has been dumped. According to Kevan Inboden, chairman of the Solid Waste Disposal Authority board, the project could raise up to $800,000 each year.

Inboden said Friday the project is still a couple of years away, but it's an option the landfill is considering.

"As the trash decays, the landfill produces methane gas and when you reach a certain percentage of gas produced, you're required to install methane gas collection systems," said Angela Sparks, Executive Director of Legacy Landfill. "There's legislation being presented now on the federal level to mandate all landfills to have methane gas collection systems regardless of the amount they're producing."

Sparks said the board is being proactive. If a landfill is mandated by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to collect methane gas, then the site cannot burn the gas for electricity or carbon credits.

"The city of Jonesboro actually has a gas collection system but it is not converted into energy," said Sparks.

Jonesboro was mandated by ADEQ to install a methane gas collection system, therefore it cannot collect carbon credits or burn the gas for energy. That's something Sparks said she'd like to avoid.

"It would be green energy that we would be harvesting instead of just flaring the methane off," said Sparks. "We're not just saying it's green. It really does serve a purpose, especially if we're every able to use it for energy."

Additional revenue for the landfill could lower the price of doing business for residents of Craighead County. Currently, all waste is disposed at Legacy Landfill.

"As much as $400,000 or $500,000 a year and that would be an influx of cash into the landfill so that would enable us to keep the tipping fees down," said Sparks.

According to the Jonesboro Sanitation Department, reduced tipping fees would save the city money or keep those fees flat.

"Not raising the tipping fee and possibly reducing it and the fact that it would benefit everybody in the county," said Royce Leonard, Director of the Jonesboro Sanitation Department.

"If they put in the system and sell the carbon credits reducing the tipping fee would be the number one thing that could help us. Of course they would also use it for landfill improvements," said Leonard. "Because you fill a cell up and have to move, so you constantly have to put in new roads and the main thing is it would benefit them for their operation."

Sparks said Legacy Landfill generates enough methane to power one-fourth of Riceland in Jonesboro.

"As the landfill grows and grows, that could be a possibility so we will be maintaining," said Sparks. "It's an exciting operation and it's well regulated so it does take time to get everything set up and constructed."

Sparks said Legacy Landfill has installed a series of pipes to control where methane gas is dispersed. Most gases are underneath the cap of the landfill.

"Not too long down the road we expect to be an energy producing facility," said Sparks.

Sparks said it could take two years before a methane gas collection system is constructed.

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