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Landfill gas proposal gets preliminary OK

March 9, 2009

Sewage sludge dryers at the Milorganite fertilizer plant on Jones Island would begin burning landfill gas in 2011 instead of natural gas, as part of a $22 million landfill gas pipeline project recommended Monday by the policy and finance committee of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District's governing commission.

A 17-mile pipeline would be built to carry landfill gas from the Emerald Park landfill in Muskego to Milwaukee's harbor on Lake Michigan, if the full commission approves the proposal at its March 23 meeting.

The gas is between 50% and 55% methane, according to officials at Veolia ES, owner of the landfill.

The project would save sewerage district customers and property-tax payers at least $148 million in the next two decades, MMSD Executive Director Kevin Shafer said. The savings would come primarily from buying landfill gas at about 48% of the price of natural gas. The price would be based on energy content, not volume.

A public hearing on the plan is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. March 23, immediately before the commission meeting, at district headquarters, 260 W. Seeboth St.

One possible route for the pipeline would follow existing state and local rights-of-way and easements between the landfill at 10629 S. 124th St. in Muskego and Jones Island. From the landfill, the pipeline would go north on U.S. Highway 45 to north on Loomis Road, east on W. Howard Ave., north on I-794, and north on S. Lincoln Memorial Drive to the Jones Island sewage treatment plant.

Shafer and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett have requested federal stimulus money to help pay a portion of project costs.

Decomposition of garbage by bacteria in a landfill creates a mix of methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and trace contaminants. Veolia would remove water vapor and contaminants before the gas is shipped to Jones Island, under terms of the contract. The gas currently is burned in flares at the landfill.

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