Landfill’s Reverse Osmosis System Meets New NCDEQ Leachate Sampling Protocol

April 2, 2019

Long Beach, CA – In February of this year, New Hanover County, North Carolina volunteered to be the first landfill to participate in North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s (NCDEQ) new landfill leachate sampling protocol. The County volunteered for the study to test their new leachate treatment system designed by SCS Engineers, PC, (SCS).

The NCDEQ’s sampling results released this month show the landfill’s reverse osmosis (RO) system is effectively filtering out Per- and Polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) before discharging treated water into the Northeast Cape Fear River. The lab certified results are available on the NCDEQ website.

After learning about landfill leachate as a possible source of PFAS, New Hanover County’s Board of Commissioners and landfill management looked at the NCDEQ sampling protocol as an opportunity to be proactive in evaluating the existence of PFAs in leachate and in the treatability for removal of the PFAs.  The outcome would also be valuable information for other landfill owner/operators in North Carolina and the US.

PFAS are compounds formerly used by manufacturers and still exist in many commercial household products. For landfills, these substances can leach out of the waste mass and into the landfill leachate.  PFAS concentrations in the parts per trillion are thought to be problematic for human health and the environment. The testing processes allow for detection at these low concentrations.

The County’s reverse osmosis (RO) treatment system designed by SCS treats the leachate and recirculates the RO reject water back into the landfill.  While NCDEQ’s results show PFA compounds in the raw leachate, no detectable levels of the thirty-three PFAS tested for were found in the treated leachate.  This confirmed that the system works effectively to protect human health and the environment. New Hanover County continues working with NCDEQ’s landfill sampling plan.

“The technology is available to provide treatment of the leachate and other wastewaters to protect water resources,” stated Robert Gardner, Senior Vice President at SCS. “We’re supporting New Hanover County and other landfill operations across the nation to find the appropriate treatment system for their landfill.”