Explosive Levels Of Methane Detected Near Berkeley Landfill-Turned-Park

"Brimming with wildlife and offering panoramic views of San Francisco Bay, César Chávez Park welcomes visitors who might never suspect this stretch of shoreline was built atop a municipal landfill.

But beneath the sprawling grasslands and charming hiking trails, decomposing waste continues to generate methane gas. That’s why the city of Berkeley operates an underground system that collects this flammable gas and torches it at a large mechanical flare near the center of the park.

In recent years, environmental regulators have grown increasingly concerned that this equipment has fallen into disrepair and released landfill gases. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has fined Berkeley after finding explosive levels of methane leaking from at least two cracked gas collection wells in the park. Both have since been repaired.

As the landfill has experienced power outages and equipment breakdowns, the air district also suspects methane is migrating underground toward another bustling area. The agency warns that ignitable levels of methane have been observed in shallow soil surrounding a nearby hotel and the Berkeley Marina."

Tony Briscoe reports for the Los Angeles Times April 11, 2024.

Source: LA Times, 04/18/2024