More trash in Bath requires additional landfill gas control

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BATH — If the city landfill seems a little more pungent at times in the next few weeks, it’s due to an expansion of its gas management system.

The landfill emits methane and other gases, and a flare installed in 2008 burns off those gases to eradicate foul odors and reduce the landfill’s carbon footprint.

Methane remains in the atmosphere for 15-20 years and is about 20 times more effective than carbon in holding in heat, giving it its designation as a greenhouse gas, according to Public Works Director Peter Owen.

With trash adding up, more piping is needed to draw gas away from the waste and burn it off through the flare. The project, which is scheduled to run through late September or early October, also involves building a new access road, and the intermediate covering with heavy plastic sheets of about an acre of previous waste.

Crooker Construction is the project’s general contractor, and city landfill consultant Sevee & Maher Engineers will monitor contractor activities during the work, according to the city website.

The work will include digging two trenches into the landfill, placing collection pipes in the trenches, and connecting the new pipes to the gas collection system and flare.

While combustion of the gases creates some carbon dioxide, “in the end, the net is that you’re a lot better off not emitting the methane, even though you’re emitting a little bit more carbon dioxide,” Deputy Public Works Director Lee Leiner said Monday.

For every 30-40 feet of vertical increase in the trash level, the city must install another layer of piping, he explained, noting that “it’s not really an expansion … outwards, but it’s sort of a stacking on top of itself.”

While much could be said about the scientific process of the nature of waste decomposition, Leiner put it simply: “New trash, new gas, new pipes.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Bath is expanding the gas management system at its city landfill, installing new piping for new layers of waste.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.