Construction, Government, and Sustainability

DPW completes extension of methane collection

Migration of gas prompts Kent County to invest in more wells.

January 5, 2018
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An expansion of the Kentwood Landfill’s methane collection system recently was completed.

The Kent County Department of Public Works (DPW) installed 18 new gas collection wells, eight monitoring wells and a new flare system to further prevent the spread of methane from the landfill. The flare went online late in December and now is extracting methane along the western boundary of the property.

Previously, the Business Journal reported the DPW discovered a large migration of methane from west of the landfill in fall 2016. The landfill has been closed since 1976, but methane continues to emit from the site because of decomposing waste.

Located west of the landfill are the Kentwood City Center, Kent District Library-Kentwood branch and City of Kentwood Public Works Center. One hundred and fifty homes also are located within 1,500 feet of the western boundary, and the county continues to offer free, third-party testing to all homes that may have been impacted by the migration. The testing was conducted by the Grand Rapids-based environmental engineering firm Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc.

DPW Director Darwin Baas said, after extensive testing, no methane was found to have entered the respective buildings.

“Public safety continues to be our priority, and we will continue monitoring for methane indefinitely,” he said.

The DPW moved forward on a plan in fall 2017 to add the new collection system along the western boundary. The county contracted Catskill Remedial Contracting Services for piping and flare installation, and Golder Associates conducted quality control on installation.

The new installation cost approximately $1 million, which the county financed through its solid waste surcharge. The surcharge, implemented in 2015, is levied to county residents for the service of disposing solid waste.

Molly Sherwood, DPW environmental compliance manager, said the county still has work to do, as the system requires weekly tuning.

“We’re going to optimize it to make sure we’re drawing as much methane as possible,” she said. “We will draw them up or down as necessary based on the amount of gas.”

The DPW received guidance from the Grand Rapids Department of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency in the planning and implementation of the new system.

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