Catoosa landfill closer to making methane

Catoosa landfill closer to making methane

April 19th, 2009 by Beverly Carroll in Georgia

RINGGOLD, Ga. - Years after the first methane well was sunk into the Catoosa County landfill, the county is still hopeful of a system to turn gas from rubbish into revenue by producing electricity.

County commissioners are expected to consider bids for a methane gas collection system Tuesday during their regular meeting. The system will be the last step in controlling methane being produced by the tons of buried garbage in the closed landfill.

The methane has been a problem, but the wells could be a step toward a system converting the gas to salable energy, county finance director Carl Henson said. The bids will cover the cost of linking wells on site 2 to the collection system at site 1, where the gas now is burned off in a flare system rather than let it become a problem.

"The wells on site 2 will also be connected to the flare, and we will be burning off the methane," he said. "Eventually we will be able to meter and measure the gas, which will help us with making projections on whether the methane-gas-to-energy project is feasible or not."

Bids for the collection system topped $600,000, projects director Christal Thomas said.

"We had six responders for a gas collection system to connect site 1 to site 2," Ms. Thomas said. "Our goal is to be able to make a recommendation to the County Commission at the next meeting."

The bids ranged from $223,340 from Classic City Mechanical Inc., to $644,820 from Pride Utility, she said.

The engineer for the project, Geo-Syntec of Kennesaw, Ga., will review the bids and make a recommendation to Ms. Thomas and her staff, who will then take their choice to the commissioners.

Catoosa County leaders have kicked around the idea of selling methane gas as one way to handle the leaks at the two closed landfill sites, said Al Smith, a former member of the defunct public works authority, which oversaw the landfill. The gas exposed the county to hazardous and legal problems. Problems from methane leaks cost the county more than $1 million in grants and local dollars, putting in methane wells and other equipment.

"I know there were initial talks with several companies about it," Mr. Smith, who served 10 years on the panel, said. "But it just sort of went away, like carbon credits."

Commission Chairman Keith Greene is optimistic about the conversion plan.

"It will pay for itself if we can collect it," he said. "The levels are lower than they used to be, but we just need to capture that energy source. A lot of people want it, the federal government supports it, and what we can do to make it happen, we want to."

Mr. Henson said officials hope to have the new system operative by midsummer. The landfill can start earning carbon credits, he said.

Olney Meadows, former county projects manager, said the county accumulated 20,000 metric tons of methane in December 2008. He said officials were waiting for the price to improve before selling. It can be sold for carbon credits or for energy.