Repurposing stinky methane gas from Roanoke Valley landfill

The EPA says landfill gas can be captured, converted, and used as a renewable energy resource

Landfills put off a gas called methane as the trash decomposes but that gas can be put to good use.

SALEM, Va. – Landfills put off a gas called methane as the trash decomposes but that gas can be put to good use.

Smith Gap Landfill in Salem is smelly.

Big trucks come dump trash that’s compacted down and then covered up.

All over the 11-acre property are wells for methane gas. That’s the gas that causes the stench.

The Roanoke Valley Resource Authority is hoping to one day turn that gas into something that is actually usable.

CEO Dan Miles says they’re under a regulatory requirement from the Clean Air Act to limit the amount of emissions that are coming from landfills. Miles says methane gas depletes the ozone layer much more than other things.

“About 20 times what you would normally get from, from just your from your cars and your vehicles. So on the standpoint of reducing the ozone layer deterioration, you get a bigger bang for your buck, taking the methane from the landfill and extracting it and controlling than you even do from an automobile,” said Miles, who adds it’s a natural gas.

Smith Gap Landfill in Salem takes trash from multiple cities and counties. (Copyright 2022 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

“It’s just like the gas that comes out of your pipeline, the only problem is it’s got some contaminants in it. So the issue is trying to find what is the best beneficial use for being able to extract that gas from this natural environment and be able to turn it into an asset. That’s exactly what we’re looking to do now. We’ve been looking to do that for quite some time,” said Miles.

The EPA says landfill gas can be captured, converted, and used as a renewable energy resource. They say that helps to reduce odors and other hazards associated with the landfill emissions and prevents methane from migrating into the atmosphere and contributing to local smog and global climate change.

You can read more on landfill gas from the EPA here.


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You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m. She also leads our monthly Solutionaries Series, where we highlight the creative thinkers and doers working to make the world a better place.