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landfills

DTE Biomass

Most people know DTE Energy as a gas and electric utility that operates in southeast Michigan. 

But the company also has a subsidiary with projects throughout the country that convert landfill gas to renewable energy. 

DTE Biomass has now added two landfill gas-to-energy projects in Texas to its portfolio.

Kevin Dobson, Vice President of DTE Biomass, says landfills produce greenhouse gases from the decomposition of organic waste.  About half is methane.

wikimedia commons

It's going to take more time and work than originally expected to fix a methane problem at an old Kent County landfill. 

In August, county officials discovered during routine tests that the methane from a landfill next door to the Kentwood City Office Building was migrating outside its perimeter.

Methane is a flammable gas created by the decomposition of organic matter.

Director of Public Works Darwin Baas says the subsequent investigation revealed a surprising amount of methane being produced.

Task force looks to reduce solid waste in Michigan

Jul 20, 2016
Trash bins
dcJohn / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Members of the public told a state panel they have concerns about landfills in their backyards. The hearing on Wednesday was part of the Department of Environmental Quality’s waste management task force. The task force was created in April of 2015. Its job is to come up with ways to increase recycling and re-use trash in the state.

Steve Sliver is the acting chief of the state Office of Waste Management and Radiological Protection. He says the panel is hoping to create laws to promote sustainability in Michigan.

Stephen McChesney / Flickr Creative Commons

    

The amount of waste sent to Michigan landfills jumped by 4.7% last year - following a ten-year decline.

That's  according to a recent report by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. 

MDEQ spokesperson Karen Tommasulo said every year Michiganders send $435 million of recyclable materials to the dump.

"We currently have one of the lower recycling rates in the Great Lakes area," said Tommasulo. "Only about 15 percent of our residential waste is recycled." 

Hydraulic fracturing rig
flickr user Eusko Jaurlaritza / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

You might recall a story last month in which Detroit Free Press reporter Keith Matheny reported that a Pennsylvania oil and gas company planned to ship up to 36 tons of low-level radioactive waste from fracking to a landfill in Wayne County near Belleville.

That news led Gov. Rick Snyder to assemble a panel of experts to take a close look at the state's regulations for this waste, known as "TENORM".

And it sparked a bipartisan reaction. State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and State Rep. Dian Slavens, D-Canton, both proposed bills to ban importation of radioactive fracking waste.

Now, Keith Matheny has been looking at the track record of the proposed dumping ground of this radioactive fracking waste.

Matheny says after reviewing records at both the state level and the federal level, he found a litany of violations going back to the 1980s, and at least 15 violations in the past decade which involve fines of more than $471,000. 

* Listen to the full interview with Keith Matheny above.

Hydraulic fracturing rig
flickr user Eusko Jaurlaritza / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan officials might allow up to 36 tons of low-level radioactive waste from Pennsylvania into a landfill in Belleville after other states have refused to accept it.

The technical term for this sludge is "technologically enhanced, naturally occurring radioactive materials," or TENORM. The waste comes from oil and gas drilling.

Keith Matheny’s article in the Detroit Free Press prompted action by Governor Snyder, who announced he will convene a panel to look at the situation.

Matheny said in another article that EQ, a USEcology company, announced yesterday that they have decided to voluntarily stop taking oil and gas related waste while this panel makes its decision.

State Representative Dian Slavens, D-Canton, plans to introduce a House bill to ban importing radioactive waste into Michigan. And State Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said he will do the same in the Senate.

*Listen to the full interview with Keith Matheny above.