Should Pietermaritzburg Have A Methane Plant Environmental Sciences Essay

Should Pietermaritzburg Have A Methane Plant Environmental Sciences Essay

The direction and disposal of waste has become an progressively outstanding job in Pietermaritzburg over the last few old ages. There has been an addition in the sum of waste that is disposed of and the direction of Pietermaritzburg ‘s New England Road Landfill Site has been a subject of treatment and argument for the local occupants and those who make usage of the site ‘s installations. My research undertaking revolves around how and if it would be possible to better this site concentrating chiefly on the execution of a Methane works as this is the following measure that landfill sites around the universe have taken in order to do the landfill more efficient and good. This gas to electricity program falls under the Clean Development Mechanism ( CDM ) Undertaking.


Procedure of change overing gas to electricity

Landfill gas, LFG, ( dwelling of 50 % Methane ) is produced when the waste in the landfill decomposes and interrupt down under anaerobiotic conditions.

The gas is so collected in belowground pipes which are built into the landfill as portion of the Methane works undertaking

The gas is so stored

This stored gas is illuminated and used to make electricity by powering turbines that turn when as a consequence of steam, from the H2O heated by the gas

The excess and unneeded gas is flared in order to extinguish it

The electricity can so be sold in order to power residential countries, industrial procedures and even transport systems

Figure 1: Landfill gas to electricity procedure.


This development of a methane works is portion of the Gas-to-Electricity undertaking that has been initiated around the universe. It involves capturing the LFG ( Landfill Gas ) that is produced when the waste in the landfill site decomposes and interruptions down. LFG is composed of 50 % Methane which is so extracted and used as a fuel in order to make electricity. The extra gas is flared in order to extinguish it.

In order to see the above undertaking, one needs to maintain in head that there are restraints placed upon merely how many accommodations can be made. These restraints require the landfill to subject to the Torahs and ordinances set by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in South Africa.

In order to measure this possibility, one needs to compare the New England Road Landfill Site to the others is South Africa that have successfully implemented this undertaking. The chief comparings will take topographic point between the New England Landfill Site and the 3 late implemented Methane workss in Durban, viz. on the Bisasar Road, La Mercy and Mariannhill Sites.


In order for a undertaking of this nature to be approved, it needs to be considered by the South African Designated National Authority ( DNA ) harmonizing to ‘Regulations under Section 25 ( 3 ) of the National Environmental Management Act: Constitution of a Designated National Authority for the Clean Development Mechanism ‘ ( GN.R 1478 of 24 December 2004 ) .

2.1 Laws and Regulations

A landfill besides has to run into certain standards in order for it to be permitted to run. There are Torahs and ordinances set in topographic point which a landfill site must conform to- and have a license turn outing this- in order to be allowed to run and are as follows:

A Landfill Site has a capacity of less than 100A 000 metric tons does NOT necessitate a system whereby the Landfill gas ( LFG ) is captured and managed

Monitoring of the concentration of the LFG gas in the dirt. It can non transcend 1 %

Adequate and efficient airing systems if the Methane concentration exceeds 5 %

The wellness and health of worlds, workss and animate beings can non be compromised

2.2 Waste Management

Second, there are the waste direction standards which deal with the purpose and purposes of a landfill:

Reduce waste

Reuse waste and

Recycle waste

2.3 Environmental and Socio-economic Factors

Last, there are standards with respects to the existent edifice, geological site and care of the landfill. These are:

Environmental factors

Economic Impacts

Socio-economic factors

Looking at the Environmental, Economic and Socio-economic factors, one is able to judge whether or non the New England Road Landfill site can implement and pull off a methane works on it ‘s site.

3. Environmental FACTORS

3.1 Size

The size of the landfill plays a large function in the limitations it places on the sum of ‘upgrades ‘ that it can suit. The New England Road Landfill Site is little in graduated table when compared to landfills such as Mariannhill in Durban or Goudkoppies in Johannesburg. New England Road has an consumption of a few hundred dozenss less than the above two listed sites, doing it comparatively little in size. Not merely does the Landfill need to suit the Methane works itself, but it besides needs to hold the capacity to hold the following installed on it in order for the operation to run:

Extraction Wellss

Gas aggregation grapevines

Gas extraction works

Flare units

LFG Generators

Electricity connexion, transformers and overseas telegrams

3.2 Situation

New England Road Landfill Site is situated near the N3 Highway doing it easy accessible to those going from anyplace within the metropolis. It is besides, nevertheless, in the suburb of Hayfields and is hence in really close propinquity to a residential country. This limits the extensions that can be added to the site as people live in that country and demand to therefore, as it is stated in the Torahs sing landfills, be considered. When this site is compared with that of the Mariannhill site, 20km from the Durban CBD, and the La Mercy site, 35km North of Durban, one can see that they are in countries which are far from that of residential places and hence are non capable to the restrictions of the size and wellness hazard as that of New England Road ‘s state of affairs.

New England Road

Pietermaritzburg Golf Club

New England Road Landfill Site

N3 Highway

Figure 2: Size and Positioning of the New England Landfill Site

Google Maps: New England Rd Pietermaritzburg: hypertext transfer protocol: // hl=en & A ; tab=wl

3.3 Environmental Impacts on Plant and Animal Life

Because of the country that the New England Site is in, there is non that great a menace to the lives of animate beings and workss. It is non similar, in other instances, a wood is cleared in order to let for a landfill site to be developed. The one menace nevertheless, is that the landfill site could, if it encroaches excessively close to the residential country, have an impact of the workss maintained by occupants in their gardens and domestic animate beings. These jobs may originate from hapless air quality, dust and/or acid rain due to the landfill site being within the country.

3.4 Global Warming

The induction of a Methane works at a landfill site has great benefits for planetary heating as, by utilizing this as a method of bring forthing electricity, it is considered a ‘green ‘ fuel as it is non impacting the environment in a negative manner. By utilizing a Methane works, one would in fact be profiting the environment as the LFG, if non eliminated, contributes greatly to planetary heating. The Methane is used to bring forth electricity, hence diminishing the demand for huge sums of fossil fuels ( which, when combusted produce emanations that contribute towards planetary heating ) and the unneeded gas is flared so as to non negatively impact the environment and atmosphere. The 3 Durban workss entirely are leting a lessening in South Africa ‘s CO2 emanations by 12A 000 metric tons and cut downing the sum of coal used by 80A 000 metric tons a twelvemonth.

4. ECONOMIC Impact

4.1 Cost of Undertaking

There is a high cost involved in edifice and keeping a Methane works. The Durban Methane undertaking, which involved developing these workss at 3 different landfill sites, cost R100 million, which was borrowed from different Bankss and patrons. Part of this cost is non merely for the Methane works itself, but the supernumeraries which are needed in order for this undertaking to run as listed under 3.1 Size. This is a big and clip consuming operation. The New England Road Landfill Management have planned to implement pipes in the site for many old ages now, but no action seems to hold been taken sing this. This is due to the Municipal Finance Management Act rendering the undertaking unviable due to the stamp demands ( Witness Reporter, The Witness Newspaper, Page 11, June 7 2010 ) .

4.2 Net income

The net income that would be made from the execution of this undertaking is huge. There would be a big sum of electricity produced from one landfill site, for illustration the three Durban Methane workss produce a combined sum of 10A 000 kWs per twelvemonth. It has been estimated that this will bring forth an income of R4.5million a month due to the gross revenues of the electricity and C credits. It is believed that some of the landfills in South Africa have the possible to bring forth 12 000 megawatts per twelvemonth, cut downing CO2 emanations and assisting to better South Africa ‘s place as one of the biggest Carbon dioxide emitters in the universe, despite being a 3rd universe state.


5.1 Health

Populating in an country near a landfill has had effects such as:




Allergies such has hayfever

Respiratory jobs such as asthma

There have besides been links to low birth weight, birth defects and certain types of malignant neoplastic diseases such as vesica malignant neoplastic disease and leukaemia. These nevertheless have non been proven as yet and are simply tendencies that have been noticed more and more by physicians with patients who live in close propinquity to a landfill site. If a Methane works is implemented, it would intend an addition in the figure of people who make usage of the landfill site on a day-to-day footing. This would hold a direct consequence to the supra listed wellness effects as the dust and emanations produced from vehicles would increase and do the above effects more terrible.

5.2 Aestheticss

The value of residential belongings within the locality of a landfill site lessenings. It makes the part less appealing as residential places could be looking upon an unsightly landfill site. There is besides a bad odor due to the decomposing waste which adds another unwanted factor to a residential country.

5.3 Employment and Job Creation

The execution of a Methane works would intend an addition in the figure of occupations provided by the landfill site. There would be a demand for more people to pull off and run the site as it would hold many more people doing usage of the site and will therefore necessitate more aid in order to run the works itself. The lone ruin nevertheless, is that most of the prospective employees will hold to hold achieved a certain degree of instruction as they will necessitate to be taught how to run the works, as it is a specialised undertaking.


In order to let for the maximal potency of methane production at a landfill site, recycling is indispensable. The bulk of waste merchandises that are reclaimable are non biodegradable and hence do non lend to the production of methane ( and hence do non lend to the sum of LFG produced in the landfill ) . This means that these waste merchandises are simply taking up infinite that should basically be used for waste that will interrupt down in order to bring forth the maximal possible sum of LFG which will guarantee maximal production of electricity ( therefore increasing the net income earned by these gross revenues ) .

The chief reclaimable merchandises:




Metallic element

Figure 3: Family Waste

hypertext transfer protocol: //

The nutrient and kitchen and green waste produced makes up the bulk of waste in a family. This waste can be recycled by being composted, alternatively of being dumped at a landfill site. The organic affair can besides be composted along with this. The glass, paper, metal and plastic signifier the waste that needs to be recycled. This so leaves really small waste from the family which will come in the landfill site. This will increase the life span of the landfill site and do the production of LFG more effectual as all the unneeded merchandises are no longer in the landfill and so decomposition will go on expeditiously.

Figure 4: Graph to demo the sum of waste produced by different states.

Self Generated

Figure 5: Graph to demo the figure of landfills in different states.

Self Generated

As can be seen from the above graphs, South Africa does non bring forth excessively much waste when compared to the other states as it is graded 4th. We can see though that China, the highest waste manufacturer, has the lowest figure of landfills. This is because China manages waste really good. They have a rigorous recycling plan in topographic point and do certain that their landfills are utilized expeditiously and efficaciously. They besides do non hold plenty landfill sites to get by with the sum of waste they produce and so one time can see that non all the waste is traveling to their limited landfill sites. Alternatively, they have Methane workss that use the waste in order to bring forth elecrticity hence bettering their waste direction and bring forthing something of usage out of waste.

7. Evaluation

One can see that the New England Road Landfill Site can non implement a Methane works. There are excessively many bounds created by the Torahs and ordinances and if one was to implement this undertaking, the license needed in order for the landfill to run would be confiscated as there are excessively many hazards involved.

The landfill does non suit the standards involved concerning:

1. Size

2. Situation

3. Cost

4. Health

5. Aestheticss

It is hence non feasible to see a Methane works at this landfill site as, besides it non conforming to the Torahs and ordinances if one were in topographic point, it is an unlikely venture because of factors such as the cost involved.

8. Proposal

Alternatively of presenting a Methane works to the New England Landfill Site, one can see that the Pietermaritzburg occupants ( and those that utilize the New England Road Landfill Site ) need to set a stricter recycling government into topographic point. There were efforts to get down this undertaking in suburbs such as Athlone, Montrose and Wembley but this inaugural seems to hold lost drift. A recycling program would therefore guarantee an increased life span of the New England Landfill Site ( as it is already limited ) and would intend that money is saved through recycling. In the hereafter, a construct of holding merely the Methane grapevine installed into the New England Site could be considered. This would affect the LFG being collected and stored and so leting it to be transported to a Methane works at a different location so that the gas can so be used to bring forth electricity.

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