Getting renewable energy from landfills

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LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Treasuring the remnants of trash.

A company is extracting chemicals created by landfills. It’s now helping UGI supply energy to its customers.

Keystone Landfill sits on more than 700 acres. It stretches into two boroughs: Dunmore and Throop. For many years residents have questioned the landfill’s operation. Air quality is a top concern.

For nearly two years, Archaea Energy has been building a $130 million renewable natural gas processing facility on site, under a gas right agreement with Keystone.

“When waste is placed into a landfill, it begins to generate gas after about a year or so. And as landfills are capped, it creates this environmental anaerobic digestion,” Megan Light said.

Light says over time it’s naturally broken down into mostly methane. A small percentage of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfate is also created. Landfills collect the gas to a central location on site.

“We go in and we partner with landfills to turn that gas they are collecting into something that can beneficially used for the end customer,” Light said.

Archaea Energy will be doing the same thing at Waste Management Alliance Landfill. They will take the product and push it through existing pipelines back to Throop.

Once it is all processed, Archaea teamed up with UGI with a pipeline interconnection allowing area customers to benefit while reducing emissions into the air by 90 percent according to the company.

“I think it’s a win-win for everybody. A win for the environment, win for the citizens of Throop and the area,” Throop Borough Council president Rich Kucharski said.

Kucharski says Keystone Landfill is not involved in the operation.

“Archaea Energy contracted with them. They own the plant, they run the plant, they’re responsible for all operations,” Kucharski said.

A spokeswoman for Archaea Energy tells Eyewitness News it’s the largest renewable natural gas facility in the world.

According to the DEP, the DEP issued two air quality plan approvals (permits) for the natural gas processing facility at Keystone Landfill in Dunmore/Throop. Keystone’s plan approval, issued Monday, allows the landfill to continue to utilize the existing flares (five enclosed and three portable) on the landfill property to control landfill gas (methane) generated by the landfill and the landfill expansion and send the generated landfill gas to the Assai (Archaea Energy) gas plant to be processed into pipeline quality gas (renewable natural gas).

Assai (Archaea) Energy’s plan approval with DEP, issued in 2020, allows it to construct and operate the gas processing facility on Keystone Landfill property. This permit allows Assai to convert the landfill gas to renewable natural gas.

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