CSWM senior solid waste manager Andrew McGifford (right) answers questions at the open house on Tuesday for the plans for the Campbell River landfill site. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Comox Strathcona Waste Management shows plans for landfill gas collection

UPDATED WITH VIDEO: The plan is to hold off starting collection system until Campbell River landfill site is closed

Comox Strathcona Waste Management (CSWM) hopes to hold off collecting landfill gas from the landfill in Campbell River until it closes.

On Tuesday night at the Maritime Heritage Centre, CSWM, which oversees waste management for both the Strathcona and Comox regional districts, held an open house for the public to get answers about the landfill gas issue and changes at the site as a whole.

Landfills are considered large producers of greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, and the province wants landfills to have systems in place to control these emissions. CSWM, though, is applying for a timeline extension of the BC Gas Landfill Management Regulation in order to hold off until the Campbell River Waste Management Centre is no longer operating as a landfill, which is expected to happen around 2023, or perhaps 2022.

“At that time, we have to perform the closure with the line membrane and the landfill gas collection,” said Andrew McGifford, CSWM senior solid waste manager.

For its substitution application, it has to hold public consultation as part of the process.

To close the landfill site, engineers are calling for a textured linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) membrane over top of the waste. Drawings show a geotechnical drain above the liner, which is then covered with a layer of protective cover soil and vegetation topsoil planted on top. The membrane will contain the gas below the surface.

“The regulation requires that we cover the landfill with membrane to collect the gas that’s generated from the landfill and then flare that off to reduce the methane impact of greenhouse gases,” McGifford said, adding CSWM is looking at the feasibility of selling the gas from the site to Fortis.

The collection system will be comprised of 31 landfill gas vertical extraction wells, blower and flare system with a capacity of 500 cubic metres per hour. A network of pipes will collect the gas from the wells.

For now though, the issue for CSWM is getting approvals to hold off on a landfill gas system until the current site is closed. It is seeking approval to complete a detailed design of the collection system in 2020, with construction slated to start in 2021. The target to finish is 2023, as part of the final covering and closure of the current site in Campbell River.

“It’s not cost-effective or efficient to start collecting gas until we close the site,” McGifford said.

RELATED STORY: Waste management board considers Campbell River sites for organic composting

RELATED STORY: Comox Strathcona Waste Management looks at tipping fees

After the landfill closes, it will be turned into a transfer station as will other landfill sites in what is the Strathcona Regional District. McGifford emphasizes though that, for the public, nothing will change in terms of what they can bring.

“You will go to the site and utilize the facility, like you’re doing today,” he said. “There will be nothing changing as far as services.”

The old sites are not set up to handle leachate collection, so the board decided several years ago to move toward having all the garbage sent to a new engineered facility in the Comox Valley.

“One site within the Comox Strathcona Waste Management service area would be the most cost-effective, efficient way to deal with waste,” McGifford said. “The new cell in the Comox Valley has a lined bottom that collects leachate.”

There is a possibility too the Campbell River site could function as an organic material centre for the two regions, but this issue is still under discussion at the board level.

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