Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

TOP STORY >>Jacksonville landfill to nearly double size

By GARRICK FELDMAN
Leader editor

The Two Pines Landfill owned by Waste Manage-ment, Inc. in Jacksonville plans to expand to an open field on the north side of the North Belt Freeway — opposite the existing landfill — and is seeking to modify its air permit so it can produce more electricity from methane that’s produced at the landfill.

The landfill is planning a 105-acre expansion as it skips over the I-440 North Belt Loop just east of Hwy. 67/167, nearly doubling the landfill’s capacity. But the old landfill is nearly full and will be covered up after the new one is in operation.
The Jacksonville landfill last fall applied for a modification of its solid-waste disposal permit to allow it to take trash to the open area about a mile from the Redmond Road exit.

A spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality said it would be several months before the permit is approved. It could be up to two years before Two Pines makes use of the open space as a landfill. Doug Szenher, an ADEQ spokesman, said Monday his department “will inspect the site to determine if it’s suitable for expansion.”

The landfill is inspected every month, Szenher said, to make sure it is environmentally sound.

If the site is approved, Jack-sonville will in effect have two landfills, with the North Belt Loop cutting through them, although it will be several years before the new landfill will be as tall as the existing mound along the freeway.

The landfill, which processes about 152,000 tons — or 458,000 cubic yards — of garbage a year, accepts trash from Jacksonville, Sherwood, Cabot, Conway, rural Pulaski County and even as far away as Garland County and other areas. The landfill also has a recycling center that accepts materials from curbside pickups in the area.

Szenher said the landfill is more visible from the freeway because of many of the trees have been cleared in the area to make way for the North Belt Loop. He said it’s not unusual to have a large landfill in a city and pointed to one in a working-class area in Little Rock, which also has plans to expand.

Employees at the Two Pines Landfill say their facility is state-of-the-art, and they frequently hold tours for the public. They referred questions to Cranford, Johnson, Robinson and Woods, Waste Management’s public relations firm in Little Rock.
Jordan Johnson, a spokesman for CJRW, said Monday the landfill is a top-of-the-line facility that goes beyond environmental standards set by the state. In addition, the methane-conversion plant that produces electricity onsite is the only one of its kind in Arkansas.

“This is one of the safest landfills,” Johnson said. “It has an above-average rating.”

He said Waste Management is committed to making environmental improvements in the area and is working with Audubon Arkansas to restore nearby wetlands, including replanting more than 40 acres to provide habitat for ducks, deer, quail, rabbits and other animals. Two Pines Landfill is seeking to modify its air permit while the landfill continues to expand. The permit allows the landfill to capture methane at the landfill and convert it into electricity with six generators on site.
The landfill wants to make major modifications to its air permit so it can convert more methane and sell more electricity to neighboring cities. Two Pines Landfill’s gas-conversion plant supplies energy to more than 3,000 homes in North Little Rock. The landfill wants to double that amount if it is allowed to burn more methane.

Two Pines also burns methane through open flares that shoot up toward the sky at night, which destroys’ 97 percent of potentially harmful wastes, Johnson said.

The methane collection requires Two Pines to renew its air permit with the state Department of Environmental Quality. A 10-day comment period ends Friday. Area residents can send their comments to Doug Szenher, ADEQ, P.O. Box 8913, Little Rock, Ark., 72219-8913.

The department’s phone number is 682-8913. ADEQ is studying the amount of harmful particles that will be released in the process, including additional carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur oxide and other chemicals. In January 2006, U.S. Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, along with U.S. Reps. Marion Berry and Vic Snyder, all Democrats, urged President Bush to move toward developing more domestic, renewable sources of energy.

These members of Congress say the Two Pine Landfill conversion plant is a modest beginning toward energy independence.
Johnson, the spokesman for Two Pines Landfill, said in the last nine years, Waste Management has provided $320,000 in scholarships to nearly 300 Jacksonville students.