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Lebanon Landfill Odor All But Eliminated

Friday, May 29, 2015
West Lebanon — The air is sweeter along the Route 12A corridor in West Lebanon now that the landfill has a fully functioning flare to burn off most of the foul smells previously found there.

The flare project also has enabled city officials to begin tracking the amount of natural gas the 30-acre landfill produces in hopes of converting it to energy in the future.

On a warm day this week, Jennifer Johnson, co-owner of Ice Cream Fore-U on Route 12A just north of the landfill, said the formerly familiar smell of rotten eggs associated with landfill gases has been much diminished this year.

“I haven’t noticed it being an issue this spring,” Johnson said. “It’s definitely not something you want to smell while standing in line for ice cream.”

Following a series of delays, the flare was fully operational — 24 hours a day — beginning in mid-April, George Murray, Lebanon’s solid waste manager, said Wednesday.

Murray has said the odor primarily stemmed from hydrogen sulfide produced by the decay of gypsum, a component found in drywall.

In advance of the $295,000 flare’s installation, his expectation was that it would eliminate 95 percent of the odors associated with the landfill.

“Finally, it’s working,” he said on Wednesday. “I haven’t heard from anyone lately about the smell.”

The smell is not all gone, said Cathy Pearse, of Lebanon, as she finished lunch at Ice Cream Fore-U on Wednesday.

But, she said, “It has gotten better. Last year, it was terrible.”

Also wrapping up lunch on Wednesday, Pat Stromblad, of Woodstock, who had visited the plaza to play golf at Fore-U Golf Center on Sunday, said she hasn’t noticed the smell this year.

The flare “seems to be making a difference,” she said.

In addition to removing foul smells from the air in the landfill’s vicinity, the city is monitoring the quantity of gas produced there, paving the way for energy production.

The landfill — which accepts about 38,000 tons of trash annually — produces about 450 cubic feet of gas per minute, which could be converted to 1.5 megawatts of electricity per hour, Murray said.

Such electricity production would be sufficient to power approximately 1,860 homes, said Dorothy Schnure, a spokesperson for Green Mountain Power.

The next step will be to select a vendor to install a generator to convert the gas to electricity or to compress the gas for use as fuel, Murray said.

The city would collect a share of the revenue, he said.

He did not yet have a timeline for the energy conversion portion of the project.

He said he had spoken to one vendor and would be reaching out to three others before discussing it with the Public Works Department and the City Manager’s Office.

“We’ll see how we want to proceed,” he said.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at or 603-727-3213.

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