The new $1.14 million gas extraction system at the Dunmore Recycling and Waste Disposal Depot will continue to provide benefits for Shellharbour City regardless of moves to scrap the carbon tax, according to Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba.
The intricate gas extraction system now operating at the council’s Dunmore tip captures the landfill gas, mostly the highly pollutant methane, through 32 wells that have been sunk into the landfill. The gas is captured and then burnt in a nine-metre-high stack.
It is estimated the site, which takes waste from Shellharbour and Kiama councils, emits greenhouse gases equal to about 35,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.
To put this in perspective, emissions from the tip are double that of all Shellharbour council’s other facilities combined, and that includes 120 energy-consuming sites, the council’s vehicle fleet and street lights.
It also means that the council was facing a carbon tax bill of up to $27 million over the next 22 years.
Under the existing policy, landfill facilities with direct emissions of 25,000 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) a year are liable under the carbon tax.
Council waste management team leader Courtney Williams said in one month alone the new gas facility had already captured more than 2000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent gases, meaning the waste facility was on track to fall below the 25,000 tonne threshold.
Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said this was a significant leap forward in achieving a more environmentally sustainable outcome from what was a high pollutant facility.
Cr Saliba said the council had a responsibility to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions but there were other benefits.
‘‘While this system will improve air quality and eliminate odours, it also reduces the risk of fire or explosion due to the build-up and ignition of methane,’’ Cr Saliba said.
‘‘We also anticipate that this system will one day be able to generate electricity, which may form an additional source of revenue for council in the future,’’ she said.