This is a story that aired on OETA Public Television's The Oklahoma News Report in Tulsa Oklahoma as reported by Cathy Tatom and photojournalist Tim Carson. For more information or to contact us, please go to www.oeta.tv
The verbatim script follows below...
BACK IN THE '80's, SOME LANDFILLS BEGAN RECOVERING METHANE GAS PRODUCED BY ROTTING GARBAGE TO KEEP ODORS DOWN.
NOW A FEW ARE TAKING THE PROCESS ONE STEP FURTHER IN AN EFFORT TO GO GREEN.
THEY'RE RECYCLING THE GAS INTO A CHEAP, RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCE.
OETA'S CATHY TATOM TAKES US TO A TULSA LANDFILL RECYLING ITS METHANE GAS TO HELP POWER A NEARBY CEMENT PLANT.
TRASH COLLECTED FROM TULSA AND MANY OF ITS SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES IS DUMPED INTO THE QUARRY LANDFILL TO DECOMPOSE.
THE PROCESS RESULTS IN THE PRODUCTION OF LOTS OF FOUL SMELLING METHANE GAS AS THE GARBAGE ROTS.
TO KEEP THE STENCH FROM OVERWHELMING THOSE DOWN WIND, PETE SCHULTZE SAYS WASTE MANAGEMENT LACES ITS TRASH PITS WITH METHANE GAS COLLECTION WELLS.
Pete Schultze/Waste Management: "Very similar to natural gas wells in the ground and then we put a vacuum on the wells and we actually suck the gas right from the landfill."
IN THE PAST, THE METHANE EXTRACTED FROM THE LANDFILL WAS SIMPLY FLARED OFF.
THAT WASTED THIS CHEAP, PLENTIFUL, RENEWABLE ENERGY RESOURCE.
NOW RATHER THAN WASTE IT, THE WASTE MANAGEMENT COMPANY RECYCLES IT.
"We're taking a greenhouse gas like methane and making renewable energy with the waste that people put in our landfills."
Cathy: "To show how seriously these guys take recycling, the building and even the compressor for this plant are made of recycled materials."
METHANE FROM THE LANDFILL IS PIPED INTO THE RECYCLED HUT WHERE IT IS COMPRESSED IN THE RECYCLED COMPRESSOR, THEN PIPED A MILE AND A HALF DOWN THE ROAD TO THE LAFARGE CEMENT PLANT.
JIM BACHMANN IS THAT PLANT'S MANAGER.
Jim Bachmann/Lafarge Plant Manager: "We've been working with Waste Management on a contract to basically purchase the landfill gas from their property, pump it over to our facility and then use it as an alternative fuel here and this will then off-set higher cost fossil fuels."
METHANE FROM THE LANDFILL WILL PROVIDE JUST UNDER TEN PERCENT OF THE ENERGY NEEDED TO RUN THE PLANT.
PLANS CALL FOR IT TO BE COMBINED WITH OTHER RENEWABLE ENERGY RESOURCES TO HELP THE CEMENT PLANT LOWER ITS ENERGY COSTS... AND REDUCE ITS CARBON FOOTPRINT.
Jim Bachmann/Lafarge Plant Manager: "Over the years fossil fuels have continued to get more expensive and we're always looking for low cost solutions to our fuel needs and in this case very a um very environmentally friendly one as well."
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY BECAUSE METHANE USED TO FUEL THIS PLANT IS BURNED AT A MUCH HIGHER TEMPERATURE THAN WHEN IT'S FLARED OFF AT THE DUMP.
THAT REDUCES CO2 EMISSIONS.
Jim Bachmann/Lafarge Plant Manager: "So it's a real win-win."
AND SHULTZE SAYS RECYLCING METHANE GAS CREATED BY DECOMPOSING TRASH CAN DO MORE THAN PROVIDE A LOW-COST ALTERNATIVE FUEL SOURCE FOR MANUFACTURING PLANTS.
Pete Schultze/Waste Management: "If we're not selling the gas directly for use then we're actually using ourself to make electricity and putting it into the power grid."
HE SAYS EVENTUALLY METHANE PUMPED OUT OF LANDFILLS COULD GENERATE ENOUGH ELECTRICITY TO POWER ABOUT TEN THOUSAND HOMES IN OKLAHOMA.
IN TULSA, I'M CATHY TATOM THE OKLAHOMA NEWS REPORT.