How Sunny Farms is responding to residents’ concerns
When I took leadership as CEO in December 2017, I saw a number of things that I wanted to do to make Sunny Farms Landfill the best facility it could be. I hired a new management team last year, chosen from among the best in the industry. I told them we needed to meet standards expected of a first-class operation. And I told them I was prepared to dedicate significant investments of time, technology and money to achieve results.
Our management team considered what we could do in the short and long terms to address our goals. They recommended several initiatives representing an investment of millions of dollars. Since then, we have taken a number of positive steps.
All landfills produce gases over time. While a complex system of wells, pipes and flares are used to collect and dispose of gases, the mechanisms that produce landfill gas are complex and constantly changing. As a result, it is not always possible to anticipate the production of gas before it occurs.
We recently have implemented new technology to allow us to better manage and control landfill gases before they have the potential to produce odors. In particular, we have installed a sophisticated new system to destroy hydrogen sulfide, which is now in operation. This system already is showing results, and will enable us to more effectively manage landfill gas so as to prevent potential odors.
The new system, which was installed in January, directs all collected landfill gas to a series of large steel vaults. The vaults contain special media that trap and remove the hydrogen sulfide components from the gas as it moves through. This strips the landfill gas of hydrogen sulfide so that the treated gas can be better eliminated by the facility’s gas flares.
This system essentially eliminates hydrogen sulfide from the facility’s collected gas stream and targets the landfill’s biggest source of potential odors. Once the system’s capabilities are established, it will be converted into a permanent, full-scale installation capable of operating on an extended long-term basis.
We also have developed a pilot system to remove hydrogen sulfide from water that filters through the landfill. This system removes this potential source of odors from landfill water before it is sent off-site for treatment. We plan to build a permanent, full-scale treatment plant for this water once we receive approval from the regulatory authorities.
We also have further expanded our systems for gas collection far beyond regulatory requirements. We recently doubled the number of wells and pipes used to collect gas and convey it to the landfill’s flare system, where it is harmlessly burned off. We are adding an impermeable odor control blanket over a large section of the landfill that has reached capacity, and we continue to employ enhanced intermediate cover using clean soil over sections that have not yet reached their final grade.
The steps we’re taking already have begun to make a difference and will become even more noticeable over the next few months. It will take that long because gas must be pulled out of the landfill carefully, without allowing oxygen to be drawn in. We expect that conditions will continue to improve steadily, and that these improvements will be significant and lasting.
It’s worth knowing that our employees are important to us. Not only are they crucial to the operation of our business, but they are our friends and co-workers. Sunny Farms employs more than 50 people, many of whom live in the community and work at the landfill year round, every day. We are dedicated to providing a safe and healthy workplace for our employees, and we will continue to make this our focus going forward.
We also are very demanding about the type of wastes that may enter Sunny Farms, much of which comes to the landfill on rail cars. The rail cars carry construction and demolition materials and are processed and moved daily once they are delivered to us by the railroad. We never accept hazardous, infectious or toxic wastes, and we inspect every load to ensure this.
We are committed to running Sunny Farms Landfill in a way that serves the best interests of the community. We also are committed to keeping the community informed about our progress. In addition to formal updates to local leaders and partners, we will be posting information on our new website, www.sunnyfarmslandfill.com. We invite the public to visit regularly as we move forward toward our goals.
John Lamanna is CEO of Sunny Farms Landfill owner Tunnel Hill Partners