Public Works and Environmental Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

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Sharon North,
Public Information Officer

Department of Public Works and Environmental Services Installs Flare Crowns to Protect Birds Near I-66 Transfer Station

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Fairfax County, Va. – It is normal to see birds searching for food near a solid waste transfer station or landfill.  Unfortunately, some of the critical environmental infrastructure at these facilities can be hazardous for our feathered friends. Landfill gas flares are one such hazard for avian wildlife. To help protect the birds and prevent any injury, DPWES Solid Waste Management Program (SWMP) recently installed two flare crowns at the I-66 Transfer Station to replace the flat surface at the top of the flares located onsite. Called flare crowns because of their spikes, or points, birds do not see them as areas to perch, so they avoid them and, thus, avoid the heat and fire from the flared landfill gas.

Flare Crowns Before and After

Flares at landfills play an important role in the destruction of greenhouse gases (methane). These flares are 15 to 60 feet high and are often located above expansive, open, grassy areas abundant with small animals and birds. These conditions make a flare seem like a very good spot for birds of prey, like raptors, to perch on in search of food. However, during daylight hours flares often burn with an almost invisible flame that can reach 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit. The birds do not realize, until it is too late, the danger of the heat and the nearly unnoticeable flames, which can cause severe burns or even death. Fortunately, there have not been any such cases at the county’s flares.  

The SWMP team was able to design and install the new “crowns” for under $3,000.

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