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Investigation, rebuilding on tap after landfill blast

By Kay S. Pedrotti An explosion in the feedstock hopper of Cedar Grove Landfill’s new pyrolysis system was caused by a series of errors both maintenance and human, said Seaborn Crosby. Crosby is president of Paradigm Manufacturing and inventor of the process which will turn waste material into ‘free fuels’ as the landfill authority seeks to reduce its environmental impact and need for landfill expansion. Crosby, landfill director Johnny Poore, contractor Roger Youman and members of the Lamar County Regional Solid Waste Authority met numerous times last week and over the weekend to initiate a plan for increased safety measures for the system and for restoring the building and other damages. Youman, president of Youman Fabrication and Welding in Savannah, has acknowledged his action was one part of a system test that resulted in the explosion in the hopper. The actual working machinery of the pyrolysis process was not damaged, Crosby said. According to board chairman Joe Bostwick, Youman has said the financial responsibility for repairing the hopper and building damages will be borne by Youman’s company. Damages are estimated at $15,000 to $20,000. The emission-free system is expected to earn the landfill operation more than $2 million a year, providing fuels for the landfill and for sale and ‘reducing our carbon footprint,’ said Poore. Tests have been conducted for nearly a year and will continue with emphasis on training and safety. Third-party reviews, already in progress, will be a part of the investigation of the explosion and of the rebuilding process. The landfill has been selfsustaining for 20 years, Bostwick said. After determining the pyrolysis process was a definite positive step for the landfill, the authority created its own company called Cedar Grove Waste to Energy to facilitate financing of a full-sized system costing about $44 million. The present system in which the hopper held a small amount of methane gas that exploded is a prototype model.

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