Winnipeg to capture more methane below the surface of Brady Road dump

The City of Winnipeg plans to collect more methane at the Brady Road landfill, but has no immediate plans to do anything but flare off the gas.

Landfill wells prevent burping of flammable gas, reduce odours and cut down on greenhouse-gas emissions

Brady Road landfill is the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in Manitoba. (Thomas Asselin/CBC)

The City of Winnipeg plans to collect more methane at the Brady Road landfill, but has no immediate plans to do anything but flare off the gas.

The city started capturing methane at its sprawling garbage dump and flaring off the gas in 2013, both to reduce odours emanating from the landfill and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Methane, produced by organic waste as it rots underground, is far more potent as a greenhouse gas than the carbon-dioxide produced by flaring.

The city installed 42 gas wells in the landfill in 2013 and now plans to add 22 more this summer, plus another two dozen next year, as part of a $4-million methane-capture expansion.

The pipes slated to be installed this summer will be placed in the active portion of the landfill, where garbage is still being added.

"If the gas is not collected in this cell of the landfill, objectionable odours will be experienced by the nearby neighbourhoods from the active filling area," the city states in its 2017 capital budget.

"The area that we're working on right now was just completed in terms of its landfilling activity within the last month and a half. So as we move the landfill along and progress through our site, we will continue to add more phases of this wellfield project," said Dan DeCraene, the operations superintendent for Winnipeg's solid-waste division.

The city is required to capture this additional methane. Under the terms of a provincial environment license, the city must collect the flammable gas before it burps out of the ground in an uncontrolled manner, an event that could pose "public health and safety risks," according to budget documents. 

The province also requires the city to collect methane as a means of combatting climate change. Even with methane capture, Brady Road remains the second-largest single emitter of greenhouse gases in the province.​

The cost of the gas-capture expansion is $4 million over the next two years. This figure does not include the potential for using the methane as a heating source instead of flaring it off.

"We are still in discussions with partners that could bring us to that point where we eventually do use this product — this methane gas that we pull out of the landfill — for an energy conversion of some sort," DeCraene said. "Our intent was to design this system so that we could move to an energy conversion at some point."