Kent County expands Kentwood landfill methane mitigation, ‘indefinite’ testing  

A warning sign on a fence surrounding the inactive, but methane producing, Kentwood Landfill. A city building is shown in background. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

by K.D. Norris


As part of its continuing efforts to test for and mitigate methane migration outside the boundaries of the inactive Kentwood landfill site, the Kent County Department of Public Works beginning this month will place additional gas monitoring probes as well as a second “flare” — a system to burn off escaping methane gas.


About 150 property owners within 1,500-feet of the landfill’s western boundary are being notified of the expansion of the county’s efforts, which will start later this month and should be complete in early October. Property owners will also be reminded of free on-site testing for methane continues to be available. So far, only eight of the property owners have had their homes tested.


“Testing has consistently shown that the methane is not entering the (city or residential) buildings,” Dar Baas, Kent County DPW Director, said in a supplied statement. “Public safety continues to be our priority and we will continue monitoring for methane indefinitely.”


The 72-acre municipal landfill site was closed in 1976. It continues to be designated a federal Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) Superfund site. It is bordered by the City of Kentwood City Center, library, and the City of Kentwood Public Works facility to the west; the City of Kentwood Justice Center to the northwest; and Plaster Creek and open ravine areas to the north, east and south.


Since August 2016, Kent County and City of Kentwood have been monitoring the air quality inside the city buildings on the west side of the landfill.


One of the landfill monitor wells at the site of the Kentwood Landfill. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

According to the county DWP, methane gas forms naturally in landfills. In 2015, the county DPW had installed a series of collection wells and a flare to contain the methane on-site to limit migration. During routine monitoring in 2016, the county DPW discovered migration of methane gas to the west of the landfill. So, according to the supplied statement, “it was clear that a larger system would be needed.”


“To increase the effectiveness of the existing landfill gas collection system, additional gas collection wells will be installed in nine locations along the west edge of the landfill beginning in August 2017,” the county statement continues. “Seven additional gas monitoring probes will also be installed to the west of the landfill, and a second flare will be installed next to the existing flare southeast of the library.”


Funding for this project and other Kentwood Landfill remediation efforts comes from the Kent County Solid Waste Surcharge. The county has contracted with a third-party firm — Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc. — to provide the free residential testing.


For more information on the free on-site methane testing available to property owners, call the Kent County DPW at 616-632-7920. Project updates will be posted to Kent County’s website at