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Officials plan landfill methane collection

Proposed system would gather and destroy gas, provide carbon credits

By Amber Marra - amarra@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- Shenandoah County Administrator Douglas C. "Doug" Walker began promoting an idea of collecting landfill methane to the Board of Supervisors' property and public works committee at a recent meeting.

Walker's initial explanation to the committee was merely to give it a heads-up and a chance to digest the information on the topic before the next Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.

Upon Walker and the board's approval, the gas collection system would be installed at the Shenandoah County Landfill in phases. The first two of seven phases, which focus on diagnosing the quality and quantity of the methane emitted from the landfill, would cost an estimated $29,500, according to a draft of a summary of proposed scope of services by Joyce Engineering, Inc.

That money, if not more, can be recouped, according to Walker. At the Dec. 2 meeting, Walker explained that should the process be successful and the methane gas is collected and destroyed, the landfill will become eligible to sell carbon credits to other entities that may not be able to afford methane collection.

"There is a market for the destruction of carbon," he said. "In theory, our destruction of carbon allows others to create it, leaving a credit."

District 6 Supervisor Conrad Helsley then asked if one day in the future, landfills across the board may be forced by federal agencies to carry such collection equipment. Walker could only answer, "potentially."

"We should consider doing it in this environment where we have the opportunity to pay ourselves back for the installation of the collection system rather than wait, because we don't know what could be in the future," Walker said.

The panel will have time to consider implementing the process, but, should it be approved, the first task will last seven months and involve installing the equipment and determining "if carbon credits generation is feasible at this time," according to the scope of services. The second phase will involve measuring the amount of gas collected and gauging the ability to maintain the gas levels needed to operate the system on a permanent basis.

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