The Columbus Consolidated Government has gas

Methane gas from the near-by Pine Grove Landfill could possibly be used at the city’s Recycling Center.
Methane gas from the near-by Pine Grove Landfill could possibly be used at the city’s Recycling Center. mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com

Yes, the city has gas, and if things work out the way Pat Biegler thinks it could, that will be a good thing for the city.

As with all sanitary landfills, the Pine Grove Landfill off Schatulga Road produces significant quantities of methane gas as trash buried there decomposes, Biegler, director of Public Works for the city, told Columbus Council this week.

Uncontrolled landfill gas can cause environmental problems, so cities are required to contain and collect it, Biegler said. Columbus installed a limited gas collection system in 1999, but Biegler said she expects the government will mandate a more extensive system in the next three to five years. So it’s better to get started now, she said, rather than wait for Uncle Sam to come in and big-foot the situation.

The first thing the city has to decide is what to do with the gas. It can either destroy it or use it.

In the former instance, it can just be burned off, as every college frat boy knows. But that’s not the environmentally responsible option.

The latter approach offers several options. The raw gas can be used to power electrical generators the city could use to power something like the nearby Recycling Center. Or it can be cleaned up and be used as motor vehicle fuel or as an additional source of natural gas.

With all that in mind, the city put out a request for proposals for companies to partner with the city to handle the landfill gas Pine Grove is producing.

The city chose Enerdyne Power Systems Inc. to evaluate the landfill and see if Pine Grove is a good candidate for producing sufficient gas to make using it a viable option. That will be a four-month process that won’t cost local taxpayers anything. If Enerdyne determines using the gas isn’t a viable option, then everybody goes their separate ways.

If Enerdyne determines that using the gas is a viable option, then the city would negotiate a deal and profits would roll into city coffers.

It might not be a huge amount of money, but it’s better than the gas just going up in smoke.