authority is seeking a Department of Natural Resources &
Environmental Control permit to place two large units on the
site between Interstate 495 and the Delaware River to burn off
gases it is unable, for whatever reasons, to deliver to the
Conectiv Energy generating plant on Hay Road.
Glazer, an environmental engineer hired by the authority to
assist it with responding to complaints about odors, testified
that each of the two proposed flares could handle up to 3,000
cubic feet of gas a minute. Their total capacity is well in
excess of the total amount of gases captured from the mounds of
decomposing material and passed through the retrieval system, he
said. That ranges from 2,600 cubic feet a minute to 3,400 cubic
feet a minute, depending on what measuring system is used.
he said, the federal Environmental Protection Agency rates the
flares the authority plans to install as 98% efficient.
devices "will meet demand currently and for a number of years
forthcoming," he said.
landfill odors have been the object of numerous complaints from
residents of Wilmington and southeastern Brandywine Hundred and
have generated demands from civic and political leaders that
something be done to control them, only three people showed up
to give testimony at the hearing on Oct. 23..
Perlow and Lyman Welsh, of the Middle Atlantic Environmental Law
Center, representing the Clean Air Council, and John Kearney, an
environmental activist, questioned whether the flares themselves
would be sources of pollution in terms of the chemicals they
would produce and release into the air. Most of the landfill
gases they would be called upon to burn would be methane, which
is not considered a particularly dangerous pollutant, albeit an
said the flares would produce sulfur dioxide and could cause
"very serious human-health and environmental damage."
authority already is using smaller flares on a temporary basis,
having been allowed by the environmental regulatory agency to do
so although, officially, the temporary permit that is required
was also the subject of the hearing. Permission to burn the
gases while that permit application is pending was granted in
August as an emergency measure.
officer Rod Thompson opened the proceedings by noting that they
were limited to providing evidence to enable environmental
secretary John Hughes to determine whether to issue the flare
permits. He ruled out receiving any testimony about the
authority's controversial plan to be allowed to expand the
landfill. There are to be one or more hearings on that issue,
probably before the turn of the year.
problems and the gas-recovery system said to help alleviate them
are actually a present concern. The authority has acknowledged
that the landfill is responsible for at least some of the odors
which frequently permeate the area, but has pointed out that
there are several industrial facilities in the vicinity. All of
the others could be contributors, the authority has maintained.
Nevertheless, Glazer testified, the authority has undertaken an
extensive program to capture gasses. In 1990, he said, it had 50
wells to do so. In 2002, an additional 63 were installed.
Another 25 were installed in June, 2003, and another 34 put in
in September. It is planned in 2004 to install a fourth
compressor to process the gases for delivery to Conectiv, he
he added, is to deliver all the gasses captured to the utility
while having the flares as a standby expedient for use at times
when delivery is curtailed or prevented. The self-igniting
units, said to roughly resemble tall candlesticks, will turn on
"only in the event it is not possible to push all the gas
through to Conectiv," he said. "We hope we never have to use
utility company burns the gasses in boilers as part of its
electricity-generating operation. Natural gas is also used, but
the main fuel is coal.
Sammon, a waste authority official, testified that, until 1995,
gas was simply allowed to escape into the atmosphere. It was
then that a decision was made to sell it to the Conectiv plant,
about a mile away. The gases are captured in wells, piped to the
compressing station where they are processed and pumped, also by
pipe, to the utility plant. Cereza Energy actually operates the
system under contract to the waste authority. .