UPDATE: Officials began drilling a 94-foot-deep hole in the soil covering the Kent County landfill in Michigan on Sept. 5, according to MLive. This is one of 18 holes, all of varying depth, that officials are drilling into the landfill to vent methane gas for collection and flaring. The system, designed so that many of the holes are at higher elevations of the landfill, is intended to protect nearby buildings from high methane levels. By placing the wells at the highest elevations of the landfill, officials are able to take advantage of the methane gas naturally “floating” uphill.
Initially, the county was set to begin work in March, but Molly Sherwood, environmental compliance manager from Kent County, told MLive that work was delayed while the county waited for input and approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- Local officials say that the closed Kent County landfill in Michigan continues to emit high levels of methane for currently unknown reasons, as reported by Michigan Radio.
- Subsequent tests at the Kentwood City Office Building and nearby homes have come back "zero detect" showing that the methane seems to be contained to the landfill area.
- County officials plan to double the amount of current gas wells to 18 and add a second flare. They plan to complete these installations by early next year.
The issue was first noticed during routine tests in August and alarmed some in the community due to methane's flammable properties. Though after the initial scare these concerns have subsided following informational community meetings. Only a few people took the county up on its offer for free home methane tests as compared to the dozens that were expected.
Even with gas capture systems in place, it can be common to see some amount of gas leaking at older sites. Sometimes this has to do with the construction of the landfill or it could be caused by some type of third-party disruption as recently seen at the Freedom Hill site elsewhere in Michigan. Communicating with the public about what this means and whether they should be concerned is a sensible way to handle the situation.
Methane capture at all sites continues to be a focus in the industry due to emissions regulations and the potential to make money from energy conversion. Even if President-elect Trump does try to roll back some of the current administration's policies on methane emissions, a good portion of companies can be expected to stay the course in this direction.