Landfill Will Upgrade Its Pump System

Rasa Fournier
Wednesday - August 08, 2007
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Waste Management began work on improvements at Waimanalo Gulch Landfill last month to install a water collection and pumping system.

WM’s community affairs manager, Russell Nanod, explained that rainwater drains through the landfill, collecting at the bottom in the sump, and it needs to be pumped out.

(Nanod said that last year’s notorious 40 days of rain kept the water collection and pumping system busy.)

“The sump is an area in the landfill where we have water collecting,” he said. “Rainwater precipitates down to the lowest area in part of the landfill.”

The facility actually has three sumps, but the piping in one sump needs repairs. Fixing the problem is no simple task. Work crews need to drill 120 feet through trash and ash to get close to the bottom of the landfill, being careful not to drill through the lining at the bottom. The lining protects the surrounding land from contamination.

Once the water in the sump reaches 1 and a half feet, automated systems pump it out into two 20,000-gallon tanks. The “leachate” collected in the tanks is then transported by truck to Waianae Wastewater Treatment Plant as mandated by the state Department of Health.

Another operation in progress at WM is dealing with the methane gas created by the decomposing trash.

Nanod said that there are currently 24 gas wells that pull the methane out of the landfill and burn it at 800 degrees. However, a new system is being considered that will use the methane to generate electricity for 1,000 area homes.

“We may be able to work something out with nearby Kahe Power Plant,” mused Nanod.

According to Nanod, 1,623 students, government officials and other community members visited the site last year and were surprised at how sanitary the operation is.

“People who visit are impressed by the volume of trash and how we handle it,” noted Nanod. “It’s not at all what they expect. There are no rats, dogs or cats rummaging through it.”

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