San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Landfill Employs “Environmental Technology”

EBI BERTHIER, a Canadian companythat manages the only landfill for theSan José area, is endeavoring to produceelectricity using methane gas fromthe garbage deposited there.The San José EnvironmentalTechnology Park is located in La Carpio,west of the capital, and has been in operationsince 2001.General manager Juan CarlosObando said the landfill was fitted earlyon with various “chimneys” that harvestmethane gas produced as the thousandsof tons of solid waste there decompose.The gas, which many scientistsbelieve contributes to the problem ofglobal warming, will be burned to powergenerators.Obando said it normally takes sevenyears for a landfill to produce enoughmethane to power generators. But hebelieves San José’s landfill, whichreceives some 700 tons of garbage aday, will be able to do so starting in Juneof next year – three years ahead ofschedule. Obando said the generatorswould initially provide just enough electricityto operate the landfill, making itself-sufficient.However, the company eventuallyhopes to sell electricity to the CostaRican Electricity Institute (ICE), he said.Obando said the gas is already beingburned to help alleviate its normally pungentodor.Aside from the plan to generate electricity,there are other reasons the landfillis called an “environmental technologypark.”Onsite director Oscar Guzmán saidthe landfill is fitted with a three-layer filtrationsystem, with a geomembrane atthe base that retains 100% of the liquidsbrought in with the garbage. Those liquidsare filtered first through an aerationbed and then a sedimentation bed beforethe water is piped back to the landfill tohelp plants and grass grow.Guzmán said the garbage is treatedwith a special cocktail of bacteria andmicroorganisms, of Japanese design,that all but eliminate the problems of flies,cockroaches and odor. He said afterdepositing garbage at the landfill, alltrucks are washed and sprayed downwith the cocktail before leaving.Representatives of the non-governmentalCentral American Water Tribunaltold The Tico Times that EBI’s landfill iscausing irreversible damage to the drinkingwater supply of the residents of LaCarpio (TT, June 4).

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