FAQ: Living Near a Landfill

Q: How would you feel if you lived near a landfill?

During a public meeting in Shanagolden, Co. Limerick, Ireland on July 16, 2015, a local resident asked the Cadence EnviroPower CTO (Dr. Bary Wilson) how he would feel living near a landfill.

A similar question was texted to Mr. Riera and Dr. Wilson during a talk show segment on Limerick's Live95FM Radio on Saturday, July 18. Although not directly relevant to the issue of the Gortadroma Waste to Energy facility, the question is certainly a fair one

 

A: We are quite comfortable living near a landfill.

As Dr. Wilson described on the Live 95FM talk show on July 18, he and his wife (along with thousands of other residents) live within a mile or so (1.2 miles for Dr. Wilson) of Monarch Hill, the largest landfill in Broward County, FL, and at least ten times larger in waste volume than the landfill at Gortadroma.  

There are more than a 1,000 homes and business within a mile or so of Monarch Hill, the vast majority of which were built after the landfill was established. There are only a few dozen homes within a mile or so of the Gortadroma Landfill, and fewer than half dozen within 500 meters. In Florida, thousands of residents live, work, shop, or spend leisure time less than 500 meters from Monarch Hill (shown below). 

In deciding to purchase their home (back when the landfill was processing far more waste than it is today), the Wilsons did some quick air dispersion modeling and relative risk calculations. Even though their home was directly downwind from the incinerator, they nonetheless determined that the emissions from landfill operations and the incinerator, on average, would not be detectable above the background from local traffic. Balanced against the attractive features of their waterfront home, the decision to purchase was easy. 

Below is a satellite image of the Monarch Hill Energy Park as well as the surrounding area. The Energy Park property is bounded by W. Sample Rd. (834) to the South, Florida's Turnpike (91) to the West, 49th Ct. to the North, and Powerline Rd. (845) to the East. Each block bordered by yellow-marked roads is approximately one square mile.

 

The Monarch Hill Waste to Energy Park http://monarchhill.wm.com/landfill/index.jsp has processed as much as 10,000 tons per day (TPD) of MSW in the past, and now processes approximately 3,500 TPD (more than three times as much as is planned for Gortadroma). Monarch Hill includes a 66 MW “mass burn” incinerator fired steam turbine power plant, as well as a 10 MW combustion gas turbine power plant operating on landfill gas. (Gasifiers that operate on refuse derived fuel are considered cleaner and more efficient than incinerators that operate on refuse derived fuel, and much cleaner than "mass burn" incinerators that run on unsorted MSW.) Due in part to facilities such as Monarch Hill, South Florida has some of the lowest electrical rates in the US

There is no evidence that residential property values around the landfill are adversely affected by their proximity. One factor here is that the abundant park land, lakes, and open space areas that were established on adjacent tracts of land, as well as the easy access to a major highway, make the general area quite desirable. Another factor is that  the properties along streets directly adjacent to the landfill property are are exclusively commercial. 

With more than a thousand homes and businesses, as well as a shopping mall, pubic parks, baseball fields, outdoor basketball courts, soccer pitches, a golf course, a disc golf course, an equestrian center, a boating lake, biking trails, and other recreational facilities, including a butterfly breeding lab, butterfly flight area and research center (Butterfly World), within about a mile of Monarch Hill (also affectionately known as "Mt. Trashmore" and so high that folks can hang glide from it) Coconut Creek, the town in which Monarch Hill is located, has been chosen as a great place to live by more than 56,000 people.