TNRD gets high marks for methane gas plan

It was a technical story on Page A4 of The Daily News Friday that likely drew little attention from a lot of readers.

It's one, however, that we should all take note of and appreciate the forward thinking of a local government on the important subject of global warming.

Thompson-Nicola Regional District officials have commissioned a study project at two garbage dumps in hopes of reducing the amount of methane gas released into the atmosphere.

Methane gas from landfills is a significant contributor to global warming. It comes from organic materials decomposing in landfills. As was reported Friday, every tonne of methane released into the atmosphere has the same destructive effect as 21 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The small Barriere landfill, the story reported, produces about 700 tonnes of methane every year - the equivalent of carbon dioxide from 3,700 vehicles.

Those are startling numbers and they almost make laughable the individual homeowner's efforts to do his or her part by switching from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent ones. However, nothing anyone does - no matter how small - to help the planet can be scoffed at.

We can praise, however, the TNRD's decision to install biofilters at Barriere and Lower Nicola landfills to test a method that preliminary studies indicate will cut greenhouse gas emissions from the dumps by at least 80 per cent.

The biofilters are simple cost-effective ways to prevent large amounts of methane escaping into the air. If successful, the benefits to the environment will be substantial. The regional district has 30 old landfills that will use the biofilters if the pilot proves successful.

Don May, the TNRD manager of environmental services, said the regional district has been for years researching ways to manage methane emissions. Until the biofilters - proposed by the Alberta Research Council and headed by Dr. Salim Abboud, council group leader for waste management technologies - were introduced, the gas elimination systems were cost prohibitive.

The expense factor may be why the City of Kamloops has not indicated any plans to reduce methane emissions at its two municipal landfills, which are far bigger than any of the TNRD's dumps.

It's an issue the municipality will have to incorporate into its waste management plans. The damaging results of methane emissions on the environment are too great to ignore.

It could be Kamloops City officials are watching the TNRD study with interest and an eye to piggybacking onto the program once its final results are in.

Kudos, though, to the TNRD for jumping in first with what could be such a valuable tool in the fight against global warming.

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