Tags: landfills

Marty Bellew on Fresh Kills and other NYC landfills

Tuesday night’s talk at the Arsenal by Marty Bellew was a terrific history of landfills in New York City, culminating with the story of Fresh Kills.  The context of other landfills really brought home the outsize scope of operations at Fresh Kills–no other site in the city even came close to the same acreage and garbage volume. 

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Next Freshkills Park Talk: Tomorrow, Nov. 29


The Freshkills Park Talks lecture series continues tomorrow evening, at the Arsenal in Central Park, with Martin Bellew, the man responsible for ensuring environmental compliance during the closure of the Fresh Kills Landfill. Mr. Bellew began working for the New York City Department of Sanitation in 1983 and worked his way up to oversee the closure of several of the city’s incinerators and landfills.

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Island landfill a triumph, but also a possible risk

The New York Times reports on Pulau Semakau, the island that serves as Singapore’s only landfill–and one of its premier eco-tourism destinations.  Solid waste is incinerated on mainland Singapore and sent to the island via covered barges. The ash is then transferred by truck into an active “cell,” which has been sectioned off and emptied of sea water.

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California landfill to power Marine Corps base

As a part of the US Navy’s initiative to receive 50% of its energy from alternative sources, California’s Miramar Marine Corps Air Station has signed a 15-year power supply agreement with Miramar Landfill, located adjacent to the base. The Navy and the City of San Diego will work in conjunction with New York-based Fortistar Methane Group to harvest enough methane  from the landfill–yielding about 3.2

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Recycle your e-waste at Sneak Peak

There will be plenty of activities and fun and gorgeous scenery at Sneak Peak this Sunday, but it’s important to remember that the Freshkills Park site is a landfill because of us–all of us, and our constant production of garbage.  And it’s important to take this site as an example to act more responsibly. 

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Robert Moses on Flushing Meadows Park

Another gem from the archives: an article in the Saturday Evening Post from 1938 written by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses extolling the then-in-process transformation of the City’s Corona ash dump into the stately Flushing Meadows Park.  We’re reminded of how much the outline of the story prefigures Freshkills Park, where Moses, himself, was the catalyst for landfilling operations, with the endgame of constructing housing, parkland and industrial space.

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Next Freshkills Park Talk: Tuesday, June 14th

The Freshkills Park Talks lecture series continues next Tuesday with a presentation by elementary school science teacher Howard Warren.  Out of sheer interest and commitment, Howard has become one of the City’s leading experts on the history and present condition of Barren Island and Dead Horse Bay, at the southeastern corner of Brooklyn. 

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Another landfill-park coming, just across the Hudson

32.5 acres of Jersey City’s 87-acre PJP Landfill, situated on the Hackensack River, is slated to be transformed into Marion Greenway Park, a passive recreational space, over the next two years.  The former Superfund site received chemical and industrial waste as early as 1968, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection assumed stewardship of the site in 1985, extinguishing landfill fires, installing a landfill cap and a landfill gas venting system. 

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Everglades tree islands made from historic garbage

Maybe the earliest landfill-to-park precedent we’ve come across yet: archeological evidence in southwest Florida indicates that many of the “tree islands” of Everglades National Park—marsh islands supporting terrestrial vegetation—have developed from refuse piles from over 5,000 years ago. Credit for the early landfill operations is given to the now-extinct Calusa tribe, who deposited bones, shells, charcoal, and other ancient garbage in middens upon which they could settle, hunt or fish.

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Massachusetts landfill to host large solar array

Residents of Canton, Massachusetts have approved plans to install a large solar array on a landfill that was capped and has remained undeveloped since the mid-1980s.  The array will consist of 24,000 3′ x 5′ panels that are expected to generate up to 5.6

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Low level landfill methane capture now possible

The U.S. Army plans to install a new landfill gas-to-electricity facility at its base in Fort Benning, Georgia.  Capturing landfill gas to generate electrical power is a fairly well-established practice at this point, but what will distinguish the Flex Powerstation is its ability to oxidize gases with levels of methane as low as 1.5%. 

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The state of the American landfill

Slate offers a brief history of American trash, its handling, delivery and final destinations.   Before 1931,  New York City’s trash was dumped into the Atlantic Ocean.  Later, it was hauled to a series of local dumps, and today, it is shipped over state lines to landfills down the Atlantic coast and into the midwest. 

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Waste Management enhances wildlife habitat

Waste Management, Inc. (WM) recently reached a company goal of supporting at least 25,000 acres of wildlife habitat across 100 of its properties, most of which are landfill sites.  Environmental projects on WM land vary  from pollinator gardens and birdhouses to wetland creation and native habitat enhancement, with many projects involving community involvement and environmental education components. 

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Study investigates plant-based landfill caps

Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC), an arm of the US Department of Agriculture, have been working with the US Environmental Protection Agency and private consultants to develop a new method of landfill capping in which vegetation and compost replace conventional geomembrane and clay materials.  

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Britain cracks down on excess packaging

The New York Times reports that the Lincolnshire, England County Council has sued a local supermarket chain for “excessive packaging” of particular cuts of beef, claiming that the packaging violates British law.

British regulations on excess packaging first took effect in 2003 in an effort to reduce waste, particularly items that cannot be recycled and go into a landfill.

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Waste Management’s waste education resources

Waste services provider Waste Management‘s Think Green site is loaded with educational resources covering all kinds of garbage-related topics, from recycling basics to lesser-known protocols like mail-in recycling programs for batteries and light bulbs and proper disposal of e-waste

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Atlanta landfill to become solar farm

A 48-acre landfill owned by Republic Services in DeKalb County, Georgia is soon to become a solar farm.  Following Republic’s own successes with solar-capped landfills like the Tessman Road Landfill in San Antonio, the Hickory Ridge site in Georgia will be capped with a heavy duty impermeable liner, atop which pliable solar panels (the thickness of two nickels) will sit. 

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Trash into gas into energy

Private UK company Advanced Plasma Power (APP) plans to excavate 16.5 million tons of solid waste from a landfill in eastern Belgium in order to harvest hydrogen-rich gas from its thermal decomposition using Gasplasma, a plasma arc gasification technology:

1) all recyclable materials are removed in a front-end fuel preparation and Materials Recycling Facility (“MRF”), separating glass, metals, hard plastics and oversized objects – all things which have a recyclable value and market

2) the pre-treated waste feedstock is gasified in a fluidised bed gasifier, producing solid chars and ash in addition to a synthesis gas (“syngas”), which at this stage still contains tars and soot

3) a plasma converter is used to crack the impurities in the syngas and ‘polish’ it whilst simultaneously vitrifying the ash and inorganic fraction from the gasifier to form Plasmarok®

4) the resulting clean syngas is used to power gas engines generating secure, clean, local heat and power

The synthetic gas produced will be used power a 60 MW generator estimated to supply electricity to 60,000 homes.  

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Construction details on East Mound landfill capping

One of the most spectacular sights for visitors to the Freshkills Park site these days  is the installation of final cover on Landfill Section 6/7, the East Mound.  Final cover (also called the landfill cap) is composed of a series of layers of soil, synthetic textile, plastic and grass and is complemented by construction of adequate and sometimes elaborate drainage systems and basins. 

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At Sneak Peak: Expert-led walking tours

One of the things we’ve learned over the course of this park project is that the Freshkills Park site has been a part of many, many people’s careers: Sanitation workers, engineers, equipment manufacturers, scientists, policymakers, designers, artists, philanthropists—we are constantly astonished to discover a new realm of expertise on this site with which we’re so familiar. 

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