Solid Waste & Recycling

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Landfill Gas in La Belle Province

The Government of Quebec has approved the expansion of Waste Management's (WM) Sainte-Sophie landfill, a facility that also produces gas from the landfill that is utilized by a gas distributor and a p...


The Government of Quebec has approved the expansion of Waste Management’s (WM) Sainte-Sophie landfill, a facility that also produces gas from the landfill that is utilized by a gas distributor and a pulp and paper facility. The expansion gives the landfill an annual capacity of one million tonnes per year and help maintain it as an important waste management facility for the company’s key municipal and commercial customers for the Greater Montreal Area. The approval was granted in late November month to Intersan, a WM subsidiary.

Expanded stakeholder relations

The decision follows an environmental assessment review of the project that included an extensive public consultation process. Public hearings took place in December 2003 and January 2004, where various local and regional stakeholders, including environmental groups and citizens, reviewed the project.

“During the entire environmental assessment process we worked closely with community stakeholders to keep them informed of our intentions and to gather their comments for improving our project,” says Martin Dussault, Intersan’s Public Affairs Director. “We intend to continue this dialogue throughout the development and operation of the Sainte-Sophie facility.”

The landfill expansion, which is located north of Montreal, will use 65 hectares of prime agricultural land, but relationships with neighbouring farmers are excellent, according to Dussault. Fifty kilometres from Montreal, the Sainte-Sophie landfill operates in a mostly rural area, where farmers tend cash crops on land owned by their families for generations.

The key relationship-builder was the development of a partnership with local farmers based on a plan to provide gas from the expanded site at preferential rates. At Sainte-Sophie, neighbouring farmers could use landfill gas as an affordable and reliable source of energy for greenhouses or other farm uses.

Sainte-Sophie uses bioreactor technology — a method of increasing the moisture content of the landfill waste — to speed up decomposition and thus produce gas more quickly.

The existing landfill at Sainte-Sophie already has a gas-to-energy project underway with Gaz Metro, Quebec’s leading natural gas distributor, and Cascades Inc., one of Canada’s largest pulp and paper companies. That positive experience prompted Intersan to explore opportunities for the expanded site.

“The Cascades agreement helped secure approximately 400 local jobs,” Dussault says. “The agreement was welcomed by the community and helped them see our landfill operations as an economic development tool.”

Extending the gas-to-energy project to farmers is “considered compensation for the agricultural community,” Dussault says.

“It’s not enough anymore to simply say, ‘we’re going to operate a secure landfill’ – I think the expectation now is that the landfill provide something of value to the community. It’s a ‘social license’ to operate that goes beyond the regulatory license granted by the government.”

An Agricultural Technical Committee has been formed, with representatives from Intersan, the Municipality of Riviere-du-Nord, and the local farming community. A subcommittee of four members took a field trip last March to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where similar gas-to-energy projects have been developed. Since then, a non-profit organization is on the way to being established and its mandate will consist of purchasing the gas from Intersan and provide it to the Sainte-Sophie agricultural community. And to assure the community that the bioreactor technology used to generate the landfill gas is both environmentally safe and technically sound, a Citizen’s Advisory Committee was also formed to monitor Intersan’s operations.

“The committee will see all our environmental data and the regulations governing our operations,” Dussault says. “Our work with this committee will help to build and sustain good relationships with the residents of our host community.”

Guy Crittenden is editor of this magazine.

Cascades uses landfill green energy

Quebec-based Cascades Fine Papers Group has put into action its plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in partnership with Intersan (a division of Waste Management of Canada) and Gaz Mtro.

Intersan captures biogas generated from the decomposition of waste buried at its Sainte-Sophie, Quebec, landfill, preventing it to escape into the atmosphere. Then, Gaz Mtro transports it through a safe and reliable 13-km pipeline to Cascades’ paper mill where the captured biogas will fulfill 75 per cent of its thermal power requirements. This project required a $2 million investment by Cascades.

The capture and combustion of landfill gas avoids emissions of 470,000 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually, and the use of biogas at the Cascades mill results in a reduction of 70,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. This is the equivalent of removing approximately 120,000 cars from the road. Considering the federal government’s proposal to Canadians to reduce by a tonne a year their CO2 production (One-tonne Challenge Program), this initiative represents the goal of 540,000 individuals.


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