Md. Wants County To Address Landfill’s Methane Gas Buildup

SNOW HILL – Methane gas is building up at the capped Berlin landfill facility, but the concentrations are small and not harmful, county staff said this week.

“It’s not heading to the west,” said Public Works Director John Tustin. “It’s not migrating toward the community.”

The two exceedences detected have migrated closer to the southwestern property line, toward a woodland area, Tustin said.

The Maryland Department of the Environment has written Worcester County a letter requiring the situation be remediated.

“We’ve got some issues and we’ve got some options,” Tustin said.

Costs of remediation will not be known until the remediation plan is complete.

“I don’t think the cost is going to be a factor,” said Commissioner Jim Purnell. “You’ve got people living all around that thing.”

Remediation could take the form of extra vents or small candlestick flares, which would burn off the methane, but have no impact on the community.

“It’s a low level flare,” Tustin said. 

Commissioner Louise Gulyas expressed concern that trespassers could injure themselves on the candlestick flares.

“I don’t anticipate anything like that,” Tustin said. “We do have some trespassing issues in Berlin.”

County staff and law enforcement are working on blocking access to the obsolete Berlin landfill, according to Tustin.

County solid waste engineering consultants will provide a remediation plan in four to five weeks, Tustin said.

The closed Snow Hill landfill also exhibited some methane issues.

The landfill shows less methane than during recent tests, according to Tustin, from seven exceedences out of 15 monitors, to three out of 15. The county continues to keep an eye on the situation there.

The Pocomoke landfill, also capped, has exhibited some minor amounts of methane, but county staff is not concerned.

”It’s not moving off the property at this time and we’re continuing to monitor that,” said Tustin.

These landfills are too small to host a methane plant like the one installed at the Central Landfill this year, which uses trash-generated methane to produce power, officials pointed out.