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[greenyes] Michigan First: A Dubious Honor

House committee approves legislation to convert landfill to bioreactor

Smiths Creek first in nation to speed decomposition
The House Natural Resources, Great Lakes, Land Use and Environment Committee
today approved legislation to allow Smiths Creek Landfill to use waste from
residential septic tanks to speed the decomposition process. The method will
extend the life of the landfill, reduce the amount of needed space,
decompose trash more efficiently and produce methane gas that can be sold.

State Reps. Phil Pavlov and Dan Acciavatti, sponsors of the legislation,
testified before the committee in support of the bills along with guests
Larry O'Keefe, St. Clair County Environmental Services Director; and Dr. Te
Yang Soong and Morgan Subbarayan, consultants with CTI and Associates.

"A bioreactor landfill will extend landfill service life beyond the
estimated 20 year capacity," said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. "This is a
promising project that will enhance the decomposition process and is
environmentally sound. A bioreactor landfill also accelerates the landfill
gas production of methane which is a great renewable energy source."

Landfills currently dig a hole, put garbage in it and cover it up, making it
a dry landfill. Decomposition takes decades while methane gas spews out of
the ground. According to research, a wet landfill decomposes quicker than a
dry landfill. By pumping septic liquid into the landfill, the
micro-organisms work 10 times faster to settle the landfill, which increases
the decomposition rate dramatically.

Workers already are getting the landfill ready for the septic waste in
anticipation of the Legislature's approval of the bills. To prevent the
liquid septic waste from seeping into the ground, the landfill will be
fitted with a special lining.

Rep. Acciavatti, R-Chesterfield Township, said: "The current standard of
landfills needs to be updated to create a landfill that is environmentally
friendly. A bioreactor landfill is a way to re-use and recycle materials and
products. This will help solve long term gas migration problems while at the
same time reduce the amount of landfill space that is currently needed."

In addition to speeding the decomposition process, the procedure will allow
septic waste to be used instead of being taken to a treatment center which
will result in significant cost savings.

House Bills 5148-9 now go to the full House for consideration.


Melinda Uerling, Executive Director
Recycle Ann Arbor
2420 S Industrial Hwy
Ann Arbor MI 48104
email: muerling at

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