At Republic Services’ Pine Hill Landfill, “dump” is a four-letter word. The cartoonish depiction of the “city dump”, where piles of garbage rot in the sun, is simply not the reality at Pine Hill.
“There’s nothing ‘dumpish’ about it”, said James Murphy, Republic Services East Texas General Manager. “It’s all very organized. It’s engineered. Everything we do is planned out and it has a purpose.”
Much like Kilgore’s historic “World’s Richest Acre”, the landscape of Pine Hill is dotted with 135 gas wells. They’re not pumping oil, though, they’re pumping renewable natural gas. As buried garbage at the landfill decomposes, it creates methane which, since 2017, has been drilled, pumped and refined at an on-site gas plant.
Annually, Republic’s renewable natural gas program captures 404,000,000 cubic feet of methane, which equates to approximately 22,000,000 gallons of gasoline per year. This gas, formally a waste product and potential atmospheric pollutant, is now being sold as pipeline grade gas on the open market, where it provides enough energy to heat 5,000 homes on an annual basis.
The carbon reduction of this facility equates to 182,000 acres of forest each year. The renewable natural gas facility in Kilgore, when combined with all of the other renewable energy programs throughout the state, makes Texas the nation’s #1 producer of renewable energy.
The local landfill is not always seen as an asset to the community, but the team at Republic continues to work very hard to change that perception. Beyond the innovative renewable natural gas program, the Pine Hill Landfill creates a convenient and conscientious location for the citizens of Kilgore, Longview, and East Texas to bring their garbage, so it doesn’t end up on the side of the road or in our waterways.
On average, 175 trucks bring 1200 tons of waste per day to the Pine Hill facility. As trash comes in the gate, trained scale clerks weigh and inspect each truck. These clerks ensure that each truck’s load matches their paperwork and checks to make sure no prohibited items are entering Pine Hill.
The landfill is separated into “cells” which are designed to hold 3-5 years of waste. Each cell, approximately 5 acres across, is lined with a barrier consisting of multiple feet of clay, soil, and a special liner that prevents any pollutants from getting out of the cell. Before it’s covered with dirt, each load of waste that enters the landfill is compacted, to make each cubic foot of space as full as possible.
Pine Hill is carefully engineered to ensure that rainwater flows quickly off the topsoil and away from the garbage buried below. Grass planted on the surface of finished sections of the landfill prevents erosion and ensures that the garbage stays buried.
Maintaining strict federal and state standards for waste disposal and retention is a team effort. With nearly a dozen employees at the Pine Hill facility and 140 workers throughout the city, the Republic team works diligently to protect the local landscape, ground water and air quality. Gas and water monitoring wells are set up around the perimeter of the facility, to ensure that nothing gets past the landfill’s boundary. Quality control is checked by a third party on a quarterly basis to ensure these safety parameters are met.
Republic Services provides a vital function that we often take for granted. The next time you see one of Republic’s blue trucks on the road, wave and thank them for everything that they do!