Landfill operators forever work to stay on top of a diverse and complex mix of leachate contaminants—heavy metals, ammonia, and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), among them; but lately, they think about even more. For one: how to keep concentrations of these contaminants within wastewater treatment’ plant’s tightening discharge limits. Add to this concern the possibility of more compliance pressure as the constituents’ list on regulators’ radar grows. From microplastics to PFAS and PFOA, the latter sometimes called the “elephant in the room” –some operators are preparing for what may be down the pike.
Among strategies, some are looking at are on-site leachate treatment options, and there are several. Finding the most fitting, sustainable, and cost-effective one takes vetting. This continuing blog series explores studies conducted by SCS Engineers for operators nationwide. Here you will get an inside look at what these leachate management experts found, what treatment system they recommend in each scenario, and why.
A Solution to a Nebraska Landfill’s Rising Leachate Volumes
A Nebraska landfill needs to manage its rising volumes of leachate, causing disruptions to operations. The liquid goes into a 20,000-gallon tank, is pumped into a tanker, and is driven to the municipal wastewater treatment plant. The tank was filling so fast that the operator has trouble staffing and scheduling its few commercial driver’s-licensed operators to haul it. This logistical task has become a near-daily necessity. Sometimes the liquid level indicator will go off on the weekend. Management has to move quickly, sometimes on a dime, find someone to come in, and pay overtime.
“The staffing challenge is the main issue that brought the operators to SCS. They want to understand the whole leachate management structure better, and as we answer their questions, they want to know how we can improve the overall system in the long-term, says Zach Mahon, the SCS staff professional who works on the project. “After an extensive assessment, we provide options whereby the operator no longer has to pump leachate to a holding tank and then truck it to the wastewater treatment plant. And we provide site-specific recommendations to take their leachate management practices further,” he says.
Mahon and the SCS team of leachate management experts headed to the landfill to talk to operations staff and get their historical generation records, which is the basis they start with for their assessment. “We correlate the landfill information with our research to determine yearly generation figures as well as a peak generation number over the landfill’s projected life. This site is expanding, and we want to size the equipment so that when it reaches capacity, the system can handle the higher volume,” Mahon says.
SCS plans in other ways to ensure the recommended technology will take its client into the future on solid footing. For instance, accounting for the reality that operators may one day have to remove per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to send their multi-thousands of gallons of leachate to their wastewater treatment plant each year. Operators are keenly aware that utilities and regulators are looking with more scrutiny at PFAS and other emerging contaminants of concern.
Through due diligence, SCS engineers came up with three treatment options. Mahon explains each:
Install a leachate force main. This system includes a pipe with a pump that pushes the liquid through the force main, directly to the sewer line and, ultimately, to the municipal treatment plant. The pump kicks in automatically, negating the need to have drivers in the wings at all times. This system is quick to build and fairly simple to operate. It is the least expensive of the modifications that SCS vetted.
Install a leachate evaporator, which heats the liquids and evaporates the water molecules. This system reduces leachate volume by 90%. Managing liquids on-site eliminates dependency on drivers, but on the wastewater treatment plant too. The gas-fueled system is suited for sites with surplus landfill gas to help cut their operational costs.
Install a reverse osmosis treatment (RO) system where material passes through a membrane, which separates contaminants. RO treatment can reduce contaminated water by 90%, typically rendering it clean enough to discharge directly to surface water with appropriate permits. Or, it can be discharged to the city sewer, eliminating the permitting step.
“For each leachate treatment option, we looked at cost, the feasibility of short- and long-term implementation, and regulatory acceptance,” Mahon says. “We deliver the data with these priorities in mind, make our recommendations, and leave it to our client to decide.”
What did the SCS team recommend in this scenario?
“We suggested the force main. It solves the primary operational issue around staffing. And the economics of this comparatively inexpensive system make sense in these times when landfills are dealing with astronomical leachate management costs, among other increasing operating and capital expenses,” he says. This option does more than meet the client’s most immediate needs at a minimal cost. It provides the option to upgrade should regulators’ requirements around leachate change or should the wastewater treatment plant tighten its discharge limits. We design the modular system to add on reverse osmosis if necessary in the future. Thus, we help ensure that our client will continue having a home for its leachate.
A value-add, regardless of the operators’ decision, is more knowledge. SCS clients have a deeper understanding of industry standards. They are also more aware of how the industry is shifting in managing leachate and how these shifts could affect them. We follow up with technical bulletins explaining proposed and final federal rules in plain language influencing their operations, deadlines, and how to provide feedback to the appropriate agencies.
“We provide a lot of data to continuously inform our clients and to help them compare their operational costs now to what they would be if they invest in a new leachate management strategy. We ensure they fully understand each option’s capabilities to decide if it pencils out for their budget and operations. They have what they need to make informed decisions for a hands-off system to take them into the future,” Mahon says.
The Emergency Planning and Community-Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was enacted by Congress to assist local communities in protecting public health by requiring facilities to file an annual EPCRA Tier II Report, identifying hazardous chemical inventories maintained at the facility. Submitting Tier II Reports allows the local emergency personnel to be aware of the chemicals that are present within facilities in their jurisdiction, and prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies.
The annual federal deadline for submitting Tier II Reports is March 1st (more to come on
this deadline). Facilities are required to report any chemicals, which are included within the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200). A list of EHSs and their TPQs can be found at 40 CFR 355, Appendix A. The EPA has compiled a “List of Lists” which provides a consolidated list of chemicals that are subject to EPCRA Tier II reporting along with their Threshold Planning Quantities (TPQ). The TPQ is the amount of chemical kept on-site above which you must file a Tier II. It is important to note that ammonia has a Tier II reporting threshold of 500 pounds.
Some states require that Tier II forms be submitted electronically, while other states may require hard copy submittals. Still, others require both digital and printed submissions.
Jeopardy question: What is the best way to thaw frozen chocolate?
Chocolate enthusiasts know this and will learn much more at the RETA 2017 National Conference in, where else, Hershey, PA.
The 2017 conference is offering attendees a truly robust program full of a variety of topics, including Technical Sessions in the areas of Compliance, Engineering, Manufacturing & Operations. Hands-On sessions will also be available, as well as Manufacturer Specific Sessions.
SCS Tracer will be welcoming attendees at booth 610, sponsoring Refrigeration Jeopardy, while providing advice and help as they always have. Play Crack the Code and win prizes during the conference. Visit the booth and SCS sessions for hints.
SCS Engineers presents a behind-the-scenes look at the special people who make us thrive and the roles they play within the organization.
Gene Dumas joined SCS Engineers in 2015 as a Project Manager for the Risk Management
group with a thirty-year background in the ammonia refrigeration business. When asked what attracted Gene to SCS, he said “What SCS Tracer did is what I’ve always wanted to do. SCS Tracer has the passion for making the ammonia industry safer. SCS goes out of the way for customer service. Ammonia refrigeration is a very dangerous industry and what separates SCS from other companies is the commitment to safety.” For years, Gene has known Lee Pyle, Vice President and Project Director for SCS Engineers, within the ammonia refrigeration field and when he met her team at SCS, “I was blown away with their intelligence and passion. They are super smart and a good group. Lee put together a hell of a team.” Considering all those factors, it was an easy decision to join SCS Engineers.
Outside of SCS, Gene has been a member of the Refrigerating Engineers & Technicians Association (RETA) since 2004. RETA is a refrigeration organization with a mission statement to enhance the professional development of refrigerating engineers and technicians. Gene states “it’s basically the education sector of industrial ammonia refrigeration. We train, develop and certify the people who are actually working in the facilities operating systems.”
Eleven years after becoming a member, Gene was sworn in as a national president on October 1st, 2015 and was president for the 2016 year. Presently, he is a chairman for RETA and on his last year on the RETA National Board of Directors.
At SCS, Gene considers one of his greatest achievements is mentoring the newer generation to understand their industry better. “I think my mission in life is to mentor. Mentoring the younger people that are coming in, putting them under my wing, it’s very rewarding, intrinsically rewarding.” Gene comments, “I want to pass my knowledge to the next generation because we’re losing our skilled craftsman. It’s very critical that we train. A trained operator is #1: safe and we need more of them.”
For current and future SCS employees, Gene offers this piece of advice: “I came here because I wanted new challenges and wanted something new every day. The minute you quit growing, you’re dying. The minute you stand still, the world will pass by you. You better be moving forward because the moment you stop, you become a hazard to yourself and people around you and complacency is your worst enemy. “
SCS Engineers is currently looking for a Senior Professional to add to our Risk Management Ammonia Refrigeration team. For more details visit the SCS Engineers Careers Page or click here to apply directly.
An ammonia system that has accurate valve tags, gives detail within facility documentation of SOPs, verifies the accuracy of facility P&IDs, and provides safety measures for operators and contractors for exercising the appropriate valves on the system. Standard operating procedures with proper valve tag placement also helps prevent human error.
Remember, you have the potential to improve safety and minimize risk. A strong training program and accurate operating procedures making a positive impact on worker safety and system operations.
On March 1, each year facilities that use hazardous chemicals in specific quantities must file an EPCRA Tier II report identifying the chemicals with the State Emergency Response Commission, the Local Emergency Planning Committee, and the local fire department.
Easy to avoid mistakes and omissions in Tier II filings may lead to civil penalties of as much as $54.8K per day. Most cited violations involve just a few common chemicals such as ammonia, sulfuric acid inside equipment, and an EHS that is a component of mixtures. These are often overlooked or thought to be exempt from reporting because the threshold for reporting may be low.
Rather than risk non-compliance, ask the professionals at SCS Engineers about common chemical thresholds, voluntary self-disclosure, and EPA’s audit policies.
Read our most recent EPCRA Technical Bulletin, or contact us at .
Any facility that manufactures, uses, stores, or distributes certain chemicals above a specified quantity listed on Appendix A must complete and submit a Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT) Top-Screen within 60 days of coming into possession
of the Chemicals of Interest (COI) .
In developing the list, the Department looked to existing expert sources of information including other federal regulations related to chemicals. With the publication of a final Appendix A, all provisions of 6 CFR Part 27, including § 27.210(a)(1)(i), are operative and in effect. The other sources that the Department referenced in part are:
Many manufacturers, food storage facilties, cold storage facilities, and industries have chemicals that fall into one or more of the listed categories. Please contact our professional staff to find out if your business is at risk of non-compliance of CFR Part 27.
Posted on the DHS site:
Any facility that manufactures, uses, stores, or distributes certain chemicals above a specified quantity listed on Appendix A has 60 days to complete and submit a Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT) Top-Screen. The Department may also notify facilities—either directly or through a Federal Register notice—that they need to complete and submit a CSAT Top-Screen.
Lee Pyle, RETA CARO, of SCS Engineers prepared information published by the RETA Breeze. Read this information in order to prepare for October 1.
PSM / RMP Compliance – CSAT 2.0
By Lee Pyle, SCS Engineers
As some of you may recall, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Final Rule (6 CFR Part 27), Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards was written on April 9, 2007. The rule was finalized prior to finalizing the chemical list. And for the regulatory geek squad, you may recall that ammonia was first listed at 7,500 pounds. IIAR and other industry advocates wrestled with DHS and other legislative bodies to gain consistency with EPA and OSHA – and they won. In the end, the screening threshold quantity for ammonia was listed at 10,000 pounds.
Step #1: Submittal of the Top-Screen Survey (6 CFR 27.200)
The Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT) is the Department of Homeland Security’s system for collecting and analyzing key data from chemical facilities. The CSAT is comprised of three secure, web-based tools:
Initial CSAT Top-Screens were due early 2008 for existing facilities or within 60 calendar days of coming into possession of any such Chemical of Interest at or above the STQ.
Failure to complete a CSAT Top-Screen within the timeframe provided may result in civil penalties, a Department of Homeland Security audit and inspection, or an order to cease operations.
Step #2: DHS Facility Ranking (6 CFR 27.205)
After collecting all of the TOP Screen Surveys, DHS utilized the submitted data to identify if a facility “presents a high level of security risk”. The DHS included, at their discretion, facilities that have a potential for a terrorist attack that could result in “significant adverse consequences for human life or health, national security or critical economic assets”. If a facility fell into this category, it was further categorized into one of four tiers. The tier system is the vehicle for determining the extent of further requirements.
The majority of ammonia refrigerated warehouses were not tiered further. Until July 20, 2016, there was nothing further to do if you were not considered worthy of being “Tiered”.
On July 20, 2016, DHS suspended the requirement for the submission of TOP Screens in their preparation for the rollout of CSAT 2.0 to prevent duplicate submissions (anyone watching Mr. Robot 2.0? Coincidence – I think not!).
Some of you may have received a notice from DHS with this information. More than likely, the person from your company that registered with DHS has long since moved on to greener pastures and never “transferred roles”.
This notice goes on to explain CSAT 2.0, when it will happen, how to prepare, etc. Basically, DHS expects that the transition to CSAT 2.0 will be complete in October 2016. At that time, DHS will begin to individually notify chemical facilities of interest (that includes those previously determine NOT to be HIGH-RISK) to resubmit the TOP Screen using the updated CSAT 2.0. This notification will be in writing to each facility’s designated CFATS Authorizer and Submitter. This will be completed in a phased manner so as to not overload the system.
How to prepare?
Be sure you are able to log into your CSAT account and ensure the most up-to-date contact information is available for the submitter and authorizer. Log in to https://csat.dhs.gov/industry/ and select the “Update My Information” link to confirm that all information is correct and up-to-date. If you are unable to access your account, please contact the CFATS Help Desk, (866) 323-2957. If your Authorizer / Submitter has left the company, you will need to send a letter to:
Chemical Security Compliance Division
ATTN: CSAT User Registration
Department of Homeland Security
MS 6282 P.O. Box 2008
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6282
In the letter, state the company name and address. Then include the full name, address, phone number, and email of the new Authorizer / Submitter. Provide a brief explanation of why the transfer is necessary.
If you are the current Authorizer / Submitter, just sit back and wait.
Contact Lee Pyle if you have questions or concerns.