News ID: 236454
Published: 0700 GMT December 26, 2018

Increasing levels of harmful gases recorded at Galashiels landfill site

Increasing levels of harmful gases recorded at Galashiels landfill site
peeblesshirenews.com

Environmental data released by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency at the weekend revealed 451,000 kilos of methane were sent into the atmosphere from the rotting garbage at Easter Langlee, 27 percent more than in 2016, when it was 356,000 kilos, and more than twice the level of 2011 when the figure was 197,000 kilos.

The reporting threshold for methane is 10,000 kilos per annum, peeblesshirenews.com wrote.

Meanwhile the statistics for CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) are equally alarming with increases at Langlee of 39.7 percent and 25 percent respectively.

In the case of these two polluting substances the reporting threshold is one kilogram — but the Galashiels landfill site generated 38.3 kilograms of CFCs (27.4 in 2016) and 26.5 kilos of HCFCs compared to 21.4 kilos in 2016.

Waste management emissions in Scotland as a whole have been traveling in the opposite direction to those in the Borders.

From 2015 to 2016 (the latest data available) emissions decreased by 4.9 percent.

The Scottish government claims the decrease is largely due to the progressive introduction of methane capture and oxidization systems within landfill management.

From 1990 to 2016 emissions have dropped by 72.8 percent.

In April 2015 Persimmon Homes had to call a temporary halt to house building at their Melrose Gait site near the landfill at Easter Langlee following the discovery of elevated levels of methane gas and carbon dioxide in the area.

SEPA's own briefing note on methane indicated one of the main sources of the gas being emitted into the environment is from the natural decomposition of plant and animal matter in airless conditions.

The UK's biggest man-made source of methane is from rotting rubbish in landfills. Methane is also released during the mining and distribution of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas).

According to SEPA: "On a local scale, build-up of methane poses an explosion hazard which can result in evacuation of areas over old landfills or mines.

"The main impact of methane is on a global scale, as a greenhouse gas. Although levels of methane in the environment are relatively low, its high 'global warming potential' (21 times that of carbon dioxide) ranks it amongst the worst of the greenhouse gases."

So far as CFCs are concerned, SEPA said: "At a global level releases of CFCs have serious environmental consequences. Their long lifetimes in the atmosphere mean that some end up in the higher atmosphere (stratosphere) where they can destroy the ozone layer, thus reducing the protection it offers the earth from the sun's harmful UV rays.

"CFCs also contribute to Global Warming (through 'the Greenhouse Effect'). Although the amounts emitted are relatively small, they have a powerful warming effect (a very high 'Global Warming Potential')".

On HCFCs the environmental watchdog states: "Hydrochlorofluorocarbons are a large group of compounds, whose structure is very close to that of chlorofluorocarbons but including one or more hydrogen atoms.

"In particular, HCFCs are now used as refrigerants (in refrigerators, freezers and air conditioning systems) and also in insulative foams. The use of HCFCs as solvents is now being phased out in developed countries and has been banned in the UK since 2001.

"Although not as stable and therefore not so persistent in the atmosphere as CFCs, HBFCs or Halons, they can still end up in the higher atmosphere (stratosphere) where they can destroy the ozone layer."

   
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