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Massive Recovery

For more than 20 years, the Rumpke Sanitary Landfill has supplied southeastern Ohio residents with natural gas for their homes. A new gas recovery facility at the site means the number of area homes receiving power from the landfill has grown to an estimated 17,500.

Pittsburgh-based Montauk Energy Capital owns and operates the $10 million facility, as well as two existing gas recovery plants — one of which opened in 1986, the other in 1995 — at the landfill. Rumpke Consolidated Cos., Cincinnati, owns the landfill, which is in Colerain Township and receives approximately 2,000 tons of waste per year.

All together, the three recovery facilities can process 15 million cubic feet of landfill gas a day, which is converted to 6.2 million cubic feet of natural gas. According to Montauk, the Rumpke site features the highest landfill gas-to-energy production capacity of any landfill in the world.

The second largest capacity is at the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island, N.Y., where a plant processes 14.4 million cubic feet of gas a day. Montauk, which sold that plant in 2006, also operates similar facilities in Pittsburgh and Houston.

Once the gas is processed at the Rumpke landfill, Duke Energy buys it and distributes it to residential and commercial customers in the region. Dan Bonk, director of business development for Montauk, says the amount of gas sold to Duke accounts for 7 percent of Duke's annual need for the Cincinnati region. “We're expecting it to grow,” he says.

According to a report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the new facility will result in annual benefits equivalent to displacing the usage of 135.9 million gallons of gasoline and 2.9 million barrels of oil, removing emissions from 238,000 vehicles and planting 339,000 acres of forest.

Amanda Pratt, corporate communications manager for Rumpke, says the landfill has 17 years of capacity remaining and with an expansion could operate for another 30 years.