The public has most of this month to get on the record with their opinions about a proposed renewable energy plant at the LRI Landfill in Graham.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, which is reviewing Biofuels Washington’s application for a permit to operate a facility that would convert methane gas into energy, will accept comments on the plan until 4:30 p.m. Nov. 26. The input can be made online at www.tpchd.org/biofuel (where details about the project also are available), via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and by postal mail or in person at the department at 3629 S. D St., Tacoma, WA 98418.
BioFuels wants to use LRI’s landfill gas to generate electricity that would sold to Puget Sound Energy and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). The energy would be used as fuel for vehicles and as part of regional natural gas supplies. Currently, raw gas is being burned in a flare system at the landfill.
The BioFuels facility would initially include a 7,545-square-foot steel building on the northeastern portion of the landfill property. The six-month construction would generate an estimated $2 million worth of local jobs. More construction could occur as late as the year 2022 if BioFuels expands the plant to meet market demand.
Up to three people would work at the facility once it’s operating.
As part of its permit review process, Health Department officials said they will consider any related impacts of the project on the community, including odor, noise, safety and any other potential public health concerns. The agency evaluates applications for solid-waste-related projects in order to meet county and state health regulations. In addition to the Health Department’s review, oversight of BioFuels Washington’s plans is coming from Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the county’s Planning and Land Services department.
The privately operated regional landfill, located on State Route 161 near the intersection with 304th Street, opened in December 1999. Through December 2011, about 10.7 million tons of waste have been hauled to the 320-acre site. The remaining capacity for waste allowed under a permit for the landfill is 20.1 million tons, according to Health Department officials.
The waste buried at the landfill is the source of the gas that BioFuels Washington would convert to energy. Landfill gas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) in roughly equal amounts, is produced when waste decomposes in the absence of oxygen.
The gas is collected, vented and burned off through a system of extraction wells, a blower station that applies a vacuum on the gas collection, and two enclosed flares.
The renewable energy facility would be next to the blower and flare station. Gas would be piped from the existing system into the new facility. The first gas converted to energy could be available by 2014. The company reportedly hopes to start operating the plant by the end of next year.
No increase of on-site or off-site odors is expected from the plant, according to documents from SCS Engineers, a Belleuve firm that’s helping design the project. SCS also said noise levels would meet county standards.
In addition to publicizing the project and the call for public comment through the news media and its web site, the Health Department has sent notices to citizens and organizations in the general area of the landfill.