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A southeast Michigan community owns an abandoned landfill that was operated from approximately 1940 to 1965. Since that time, the property was divided and developed into a city owned and operated waste water treatment facility, a municipal parking lot, and several private residential complexes. The residential housing was constructed along the perimeter of the abandoned landfill.
In 2005, the municipality learned that the abandoned landfill was producing methane at concentrations that presented a risk to the nearby residential structures. Methane is a highly combustible gas produced during the breakdown of organic materials and if concentrations are within a specific threshold (5%-15% by volume air) could become explosive. The municipality responded immediately to reduce the methane concentrations at the site and remove the potential public health threat by retaining legal counsel and AKT Peerless.
The municipality retained AKT Peerless to conduct a remedial investigation, design and implement a remedial system to remove the methane and assist with negotiations with resident, local, state, and federal regulatory agencies. From 2006 to 2007, AKT Peerless conducted the Remedial Investigation to evaluate the extent of the landfill. Based on AKT Peerless’ recommendation, methane alarms were installed in all buildings in 2007 and 2008 and a passive methane ventilation trench was installed to protect the residential building at greatest risk in 2009. In 2011, AKT Peerless conducted a pilot study to collect the necessary data to design an active remedial system. In 2011 and 2012, AKT Peerless worked in collaboration with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to design and implement the active methane ventilation system within the landfill located near the existing residential complexes to collect subsurface gases.
Throughout this process AKT Peerless was the lead technical negotiator for the municipality with USEPA, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR), the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), the County Health Department, and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Through these negotiations AKT Peerless was able to assist the municipality in obtaining a grant for over $100,000 from USEPA to install the active methane ventilation system. Currently, the system extracts subsurface gases, including methane, by actively drawing from these designated locations. The subsurface gases are then directed to a self-igniting flare to burn off the methane and exhaust innocuously to the atmosphere.
This project demonstrated that through the collaborative negotiations the municipality and USEPA were able to install a cost-effective methane extraction system that has eliminated the risk to public health.