Atlantic County Targets Landfill Odors with Enhanced Gas Collection, Considers Waste Transfer and Renewable Natural Gas Projects

During the recent meeting of the Atlantic County Board of Commissioners, the primary focus was on addressing the persistent odor issues emanating from the county landfill and exploring forward-looking waste management solutions. Matthew Doherty, president of the Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA), provided an update on the landfill’s gas collection system and compliance with environmental regulations. The board also discussed the future capacity of the landfill, the potential for waste conversion technology, and the ongoing legal and environmental considerations impacting the county.

Doherty reported to the commissioners a 32% increase in landfill gas collection following the installation of 19 new wells. Despite the improvement, Doherty acknowledged that the odor issue had not been completely eliminated. The ACUA’s efforts to manage the odor included plans to extend header pipes for improved gas collection efficiency and a project to cap 16 acres of the landfill, which would help contain the gas. Additionally, a groundbreaking for a renewable natural gas project was mentioned, promising to reduce on-site emissions.

However, the commissioners remained concerned about the ongoing odor issues and sought a definitive timeline for when residents would no longer be troubled by the landfill gas smells. Doherty attributed a recent spike in odor complaints partly to social media, where residents were encouraged to file complaints, but assured the commissioners that all concerns were being validated and addressed. The ACUA was committed to continuous monitoring and projected a significant improvement in the next four to six weeks.

The technical challenges of the landfill’s gas collection system were also elaborated. The speaker explained that the first 26 feet of a landfill well do not collect gas due to regulatory requirements, and weather conditions such as wetness can lead to faster breakdown of trash and increased gas production. The development of residential areas near the landfill was identified as an additional challenge due to potential odor issues.

The landfill’s compliance with New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) regulations was discussed, with a quarterly surface emissions monitoring report showing four exceedances out of over 700 data points for methane. The landfill has adapted to these exceedances by installing additional gas wells and conducting a drone survey to identify areas requiring immediate attention.

In the broader context of waste management, County Executive Dennis Levinson introduced a multifaceted approach, including the exploration of biogas technology to convert food waste into natural gas, and the possibility of transferring waste to other counties. Commissioner Maureen Kern questioned the readiness of the waste conversion technology, while Commissioner James A. Bertino highlighted the potential interest from Cape May County in receiving part of Atlantic County’s waste.

The commissioners also deliberated on the county’s legal representation for land use matters, the appointment of Bassan K to the Atlantic County Cultural and Heritage Advisory Board, and the endorsement of a resolution supporting the Hamilton Township Board of Education’s pursuit of funds for the rehabilitation of the Duerson School property.

Additionally, a resolution urging New Jersey Coastal Coalition communities to adopt a new alert system for public safety and emergency preparedness was approved.

The meeting concluded with a significant resolution honoring the retirement of Diana Rutala for her nearly 40 years of service to Atlantic County, reflecting on her leadership roles and dedication to public service. The commissioners also discussed a groundbreaking at Atlantic Cape Community College and agricultural regulations related to water well permitting. Public comments included concerns about the landfill’s odor and air pollution, with resident Conan Karski seeking a commitment to address the issue, and Commissioner Frank X. Balles acknowledging the problem and discussing the landfill’s testing and waste management processes.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
County Executive:
Dennis Levinson
County Council Officials:
Maureen Kern, James A. Bertino, Frank X. Balles, June Byrnes, Ernest D. Coursey, Richard R. Dase, Amy L. Gatto, Andrew W. Parker, Iii, John W. Risley, Jr.

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