NEWPORT—The Landfill Committee meeting held Monday evening was shifted to a workshop due to the lack of a quorum.

Commissioners heard from Jim Harris, a former engineer who lives in Bybee.

Harris spoke about plasma arc waste recycling, and its superiority over the usage of landfills.

Plasma recycling heats the waste to extreme temperatures and leaves only synthesis gas and slag when the process is complete.

Harris said the gas can be used to power the station, which eliminates the need for electricity to power the unit.

The overall savings in space is huge according to Harris.

“Usually there is a 30 to one reduction when using plasma,” Harris said.

“You could shrink down our landfill to 1/30 the size it is now, which means more production out of it long term.”

Harris’ biggest concern is a landfill leak that is eventually absorbed into groundwater.

He estimated that 80 to 90 percent of Tennessee landfills are leaking into the water table.

“The probability is very high that even our landfill is leaking,” Harris said.

“Even a pinhole can get these things started, and you’ll have a lot of sick people on your hands.

“From an engineering or technical side going with a plasma system is a no brainer.”

The cost for a plasma arc waste system would be millions of dollars according to Harris. The steep price tag is worth the long-term benefits in his eyes.

“It may not be in the next 10 to 20 years, but it will eventually be the way that waste is handled.

“Recycling doesn’t work, and in the end you’re taking tax payer money to support a landfill. You can recover energy from the plasma system as well as metal. The remaining slag ball can be used for concrete and pavers.”

Commissioners learned that nearly $20,000 per month is being spent to haul demolition waste out of the county.

This is due to the closure of that portion of Cocke County’s landfill.

Acreage is being cleared to support the expansion of the landfill.

TDEC officials say the new permit should be issued by January or February of 2020.

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