Landfill Takes Active Role in Cutting Greenhouse Gases Callahan: Flame to Be Signal of Environmental Activism

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Byline: Amelia A. Hart, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

Solid waste officials say a new gas collection system at the Nassau County Landfill in Callahan will reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released at the site and cut the potential for groundwater contamination.

An estimated 1 million cubic feet a day of the gases, mainly methane and carbon dioxide that are created as trash decomposes, will be pulled from the landfill and burned off, said Bob McIntyre, Nassau County's solid waste management director.

"The benefit is, we are destroying a greenhouse gas," McIntyre said.

The new system is called an active gas system because gases are actively sucked from the landfill instead of passively being released into the atmosphere through vents.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, landfills are the United States' largest manmade source of methane emissions, which contribute to the environmental greenhouse effect.

McIntyre said the county had planned to install the active system at the landfill once it closes. But the discovery two years ago of trace amounts of vinyl chloride, a toxic chemical, at two of the 36 water monitoring wells that ring the landfill on U.S. 1 prompted engineers to recommend the system be installed now, McIntyre said.

Vinyl chloride is a water-soluble gas used to make plastic and vinyl products that find their way into landfills.

Active systems remove gases from landfills quicker than passive systems, said Dina Wells, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Northeast District office in Jacksonville, which oversees the Nassau County Landfill. …