Out of site, out of mind? Glanbrook Landfill Part 2by Waste Management | 261 days ago | 3949 page views
Topics: Your City
In: TheSpecTV, TheSpecTV Around Town
We all drag our garbage out to the curb every week, but have you ever wondered where it ends up? Dennis Guy, project manager of Waste Management, City of Hamilton admits that 25 to 30 trucks of garbage are hauled to the landfill every single day. Now that’s a lot of garbage.
So what exactly happens to your garbage once it has reached its final resting place? A landfill is basically a big mound of garbage. Over time, the waste naturally compacts and the pile sinks, making room for more garbage to be added.
“When the organic material starts to break down, methane gas is released,” explains Guy, adding that methane is a greenhouse gas that should not be released into the atmosphere. What Waste Management has done is installed a gas collection system. Pipes are placed in the landfill to collect the gas, which is then converted into electricity. This green energy is then pumped back into the grid and used to provide electricity for approximately 2,100 homes.
“Basically, the landfill has gas that we convert into electricity which allows people to flip the switch in their home – in our case, for a community the size of Binbrook,” Guy says.
On those soggy, rainy days, the landfill inevitably gets wet. So what happens to the water as it runs off this big pile of garbage? Retention ponds are built around the landfill to catch the runoff and provide a place for the water to sit.
“The water is tested on a regular basis to see what’s in it. If it’s clean, we’re able to pump the water back and use it. If it’s not then it’s pumped to the sewage treatment plant,” says Guy.
For the water that percolates through the landfill site, a leachate system is used to collect the soupy liquid.
“It’s a lot like making coffee,” Guy says. “You have your coffee grinds and water, and as the water percolates through you get your cup of coffee. Rain water running through the landfilled garbage works in the same way,” Guys says. The landfill has a low permeability soil underneath it and pipes are installed throughout the site to collect the water. The leachate is then pumped to the sewage treatment plant for treatment.
Landfill sites will be with us for a very, very long time, but the leachate and gas collection systems are designed to lessen the environmental impact of these big piles of garbage.
“As a municipality, we have a responsibility to monitor the gases and maintain the sites for a hundred years after their capped off,” admits Guy. In fact, the City of Hamilton has already rehabilitated some of their closed landfill sites, by building soccer fields over them, giving residents a place to play.
For more information on the City of Hamilton’s landfills, visit www.hamilton.ca/waste.