Landfill experts assist with the many environmental pollution controls and monitoring required for open and closed landfills, including groundwater monitoring, evaluation, and statistical analyses and reporting, leachate collection and treatment/disposal, landfill gas/vapor and odor control and monitoring, liners (open sites) and landfill cover systems for waste containment. Over 300 closed landfills are on the USEPA Superfund List and hundreds more on State superfund or corrective action lists. Most of the closed landfills are totally or partially unlined and have existing environmental issues including groundwater contamination, landfill gas migration, and landfill cover system maintenance.
In 1986, there were 7,683 MSW landfills in the United States. By 2009, there were just 1,908 active MSW landfills nationwide: a 75 percent decline in disposal facilities in less than 25 years. However, this number is deceptive. Much of the decrease is due to the consolidation of multiple landfills into a single, more efficient, and much larger facility in acres and volume. Also, technology has allowed for each acre of a landfill to take 30% more waste. So during this time, the available landfill per person has increased by almost 30%. There are far fewer Industrial, Hazardous, and C&D Waste landfills that are active. However, there are > 5,000 closed landfills including all categories mentioned above.
Most of the open/active landfills that are fully lined (i.e., no unlined closed portions of the landfill) do not have groundwater contamination unless there is landfill gas migration. Landfill gas migration (as well as odor control), is more easily mitigated with the proper design of landfill gas extraction systems. Many larger landfills collect landfill gas for regulatory compliance and/or to convert to renewable energy. The largest operational expense at active and closed landfills is the collection and disposal of landfill leachate. This is due to the fluctuating changes in leachate chemistry that is usually high in organics, metals, and ammonia. When ammonia is higher than 500 ppm, many of the local sewage treatment plants reject leachate because of the strict nitrogen effluent limits on the POTW. Trucking costs to haul leachate further from rural areas to large POTWs in bigger cities are growing in expense. Leachate pre-treatment systems are available, though, to provide on-site treatment that will enable the landfill to dispose of leachate in nearby surface water and/or at the local or nearest POTW.
New emerging contaminants of concern such as 1,4 dioxane and PFCs (perfluorinated carbons) have been found in numerous landfill leachates and are of concern to many POTWs and States are starting to regulate 1,4 dioxane and PFCs to low parts per trillion (ng/l). These compounds cannot be treated at POTWs and in the near future may require advanced treatment at the landfill. Also older, unlined landfills and Superfund sites are also starting to determine if these 2 emerging contaminates are in existing groundwater plumes at landfills. Many states have mandated corrective action for 1,4 dioxane but not for PFCs at this time.
Also, another big expense at landfills is closure and post-closure care (PCC) costs. In the last 25 years, most landfills have to set aside funds to monitor and maintain landfills for 30+ years after final closure (i.e., after the cover system has been certified by the State). The Director of the State, Indian Tribe, or Federal authority can reduce or increase the length of post-closure care. However, no regulatory guidance is provided on how to determine if the PCC period can be terminated.
For over 25 years, Lee Enterprises Consulting has been assisting companies and investors with issues relating to sustainability, bioenergy, biomaterials and chemicals, biotechnologies, and feedstocks. With over 150 consultants, we have the diverse expertise and geographical reach to assist in virtually any bioeconomy project worldwide. These seasoned professionals average over 30 years each in their industry experience. Our ability to assemble these professionals into multidisciplinary teams allows us to fully integrate the technical, scientific, and regulatory aspects of a project, and combine them with years of hands-on experience. Take a look at our experts and the services we provide. You will note that most of our experts are also available for ancillary engagements and advice, for specialty engagements like serving as expert witnesses in litigation matters. A good overview of our group is found in this video. Call us at 1+ (501) 833-8511 or email us for more information.