Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) levels are creeping up at some landfills, especially those that take C&D waste; some are seeing concentrations in the thousands to 30,000 parts per million (up from about 20 to 40 ppm ten years ago). And even at very low concentrations, H2S can be problematic.
Material Recovery Facility residuals, which typically contain significant amounts of pulverized drywall, are high in gypsum and sulfate. Once broken down, residuals become a high-surface-area material, leaching into and spreading through waste. When reacting with water and organics, it can potentially generate H2S. With a drive to divert more C&D debris, and regulations tightening around H2S, operators’ jobs get harder as they work to stave off emissions from this corrosive, flammable compound notorious for its “rotten egg” odor.
When building out their gas collection systems, controlling H2S becomes even more daunting. Sol Sim, an SCS Engineers Vice President, explains, “We see H2S concentrations jump when we expand landfill gas collection systems, often in cells that contain C&D residual screening materials. The gas was there all along but sequestered. Now it’s coming out of the ground, and the onset of issues can spike suddenly.”
When spikes come on quickly, Sim’s team implements turnkey interim treatment approaches. They start by identifying the gas collection wells with the highest contributors and act fast to get them into compliance.
SCS teams take a two-pronged approach by stepping back and thinking about the big picture while taking action. It provides a major advantage to moving too quickly.
The more data, the better. Your engineers can simulate treatment with various media to assess the impact on flare inlet concentrations. And knowing potential impact at the flare is critical; it’s the compliance point where regulators measure sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions.
SO2 can’t be controlled through combustion, so removing H2S from waste before sending gas to the flare is essential. Sim thinks back to problems he’s investigated for clients who had SO2 sneak up on them, causing failed sulfur dioxide emissions testing.
The proactive measure of identifying problematic gas wells and treating them is key to staying in compliance. And Sim often finds clients using interim solutions as long as they can. He has seen them work well for up to five years but they don’t resolve operators’ long-term issues, which will become more challenging as our waste streams continue to change or as landfills continue to accept more and more C&D materials.
“We solve immediate issues, address the impact of incoming materials several years in advance, and begin planning for the next 20 years. It’s how we determine strategies to minimize emissions and improve efficiencies into the future with consideration to needs as landfilling and recycling evolve.”
“We’re going to investigate thoroughly to pinpoint and understand the cause, but we do take immediate action in the interim. As part of the solution, we’ll develop an informed strategy to prevent issues well into the future,” he says.
For the longer haul, it takes time to get building permits. Coming up with permanent engineering designs and treatments requires a lot of troubleshooting and research. Even once engineers identify a lasting fix, it takes time to manufacture and install larger vessels and other infrastructure.
But they don’t wait for all these pieces to come together to act.
The priority is getting operators in compliance right away or taking down emissions if they are on the verge of noncompliance. As work begins, operators can breathe a little easier knowing they have time to figure out how to allocate resources and funds to implement a more permanent strategy.
“We’ve seen where data we’ve gathered while working on the immediate problem enables our clients to gain insight to make good decisions around rightsizing their infrastructure moving forward,” Sim says.
Watch and study while addressing the immediate problem.
Sim emphasizes that operators should not be surprised or act too quickly when they turn on the gas extraction system and see spikes in H2S concentrations. There is usually an initial spike from a new high H2S producing area at the onset of gas collection. He has seen operators abruptly stop extracting, which can lead to odors or other compliance issues.
“When you put in a treatment system, you can take out the initial surge in H2S to allow time for the concentrations to level out. It’s important to allow that window for initial surges to run their course to understand the problem better. Otherwise, you could over-design your system around a short-term event,” Sim advises.
He points to a real-life scenario: a site that skipped the interim step of starting with a less expensive initial solution. Once they started drawing on the gas, they realized the problem was not as substantial as originally thought, and they didn’t need a multi-million-dollar system in the end.
A balancing act.
“Imagine H2S generation as an expanding balloon; if you pop it, air rushes out fast [akin to when you first pull gas from the ground]. That concentration level scares people. But if you react by shutting off extraction points, your balloon will continue to expand and eventually create odor problems. The goal is to extract the gas and H2S at the rate it is being generated, so it’s a balancing act, where expertise and technology both play key roles,” Sim says.
Early work typically begins by identifying wells that are the highest contributors and concentrating efforts there. It’s a complex process as sites can have fifty to thousands of collection points. Having the historical data and saving the data to watch the trend makes identifying and analyzing specific wells or clusters much more efficient.
Successfully attacking those high offenders requires an understanding of flow and concentrations. After locating the problem area, Sim takes samples using Dräger tubes at strategic points throughout individual wells and headers to identify concentrations. Gas well monitoring and the corresponding flow data will tell you if you’ve taken emissions down sufficiently.
12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time
Complimentary Registration for CCIM Institute Members and Non-members
This CCIM webinar on overcoming environmental challenges in real estate transactions is being hosted by the San Diego chapter of CCIM to better understand:
“Strategies to Resolve Environmental Issues in Your Real Estate Transaction” will be presented on Wednesday, October 20th, from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time through Zoom. The panel of experts includes:
Registration is complimentary for CCIM members and non-members through the following link: https://ccim.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_HU4wA0c6TxiULuKrngdzlA. Webinar attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and participate in this interactive online platform.
On September 15, Governor Pritzker signed Senate Bill 2408, forming the Illinois Energy Transition Act. The Act advances renewable energy goals and the path to carbon-free electricity generation by 2045. To say this bill will impact the Illinois electrical utility landscape is an understatement.
Illinois is a top energy producer and consumer in the upper Midwest. The Act requires displacement of more than 6,000 MWh provided from coal and natural gas. One average MWh is enough to power 796 homes for a year in the U.S.
Energy efficiencies and implementing alternative energy resources will be an increasingly important strategy to mitigate the cost impacts from this Act to all users: residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal.
SCS supports clients with the decommissioning and legacy management of coal-fired facilities and renewable energy development. Our environmental team in Illinois includes local experts, Scott Knoepke and Richard Southorn who support the management of coal-fired facilities with Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) and assist utilities transitioning to renewable natural gas installments and solar energy sources. For coal-fired facilities with CCR impoundments, SCS’s Illinois Office provides design, closure, construction quality assurance, and site stewardship (e.g., long-term maintenance, groundwater monitoring, and reporting).
SCS uses a specialized team for solar implementation on landfills and Brownfields. Knoepke and Southorn are supported by SCS National Experts in the region to assess and implement Solar Energy on Landfills & Brownfields.
The Act defines that landfill gas produced in Illinois as a renewable energy resource. SCS Engineers has one of the longest and most successful Biogas practices in the United States. SCS designs, constructs, and operates more Biogas, Anaerobic Digestion, Renewable Natural Gas, Ag Digester systems than any other engineering firm in the nation. Our clients attribute our quality and high production rates to our practice specializing in waste gas utilization, combined with our expertise in solid waste management and compliance.
The Iowa Recycling and Solid Waste Management Conference will host an in-person conference October 4-6, 2021, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex. A slate of diverse speakers, a large exhibit hall, and some fun networking opportunities are on tap for this event including SCS’s own women in waste management.
SMM – Vision for Iowa Project Update
(Tuesday, October 5, 2021, 8:00 AM)
Michelle Leonard’s first presentation will provide an update on the Sustainable Materials Management Vision for the Iowa Phase II project, including work completed to date, and the plans and process for the project over the next 18 months.
Food Recycling and Rescue in LA County
(Tuesday, October 5, 2021, 9:50 AM)
Michelle Leonard’s second presentation will provide attendees with detailed information on food donation and recycling. Details include how the programs were envisioned, the planning process undertaken by the County, the program results, and the County’s next steps. She will present details on the County’s, private business, and haulers’ roles and responsibilities, and will offer suggestions for how other communities can implement a successful food donation program.
Strategically Planning an Alternative Cover
(Tuesday, October 5, 2021, 4:15 PM)
Anastasia Welch presents how alternative covers come in many varieties and may be appropriate for an individual site based on a number of design criteria, performance standards, and material availability considerations. Apart from technical engineering issues, long-term financial and maintenance requirements are also considered. And most importantly, how does termination of post-closure care work with an alternative cover?
Anastasia’s presentation will bring current a summary of evapotranspiration and synthetic turf cover systems and the main permitting and design considerations of each. The second portion of her presentation will explore how the financial assurance, post-closure care, and post-closure termination aspects of landfill management are impacted by these two alternative cover systems.
New Chicago office location at 40 Shuman Boulevard, Suite 216, Naperville, IL 60563
SCS Engineers continues expanding its environmental team in its Chicago, Illinois office to meet environmental engineering and consulting needs focusing on waste management and the needs of the electric utilities. Driving demands are industries and municipalities seeking to reduce their environmental footprint while providing essential services and products.
Leading the Chicagoland team, Professional Engineer and Professional Geologist Scott Knoepke. Knoepke serves clients needing remediation and site redevelopment. This includes commercial dry cleaners, retail petroleum sites, and heavy industries such as steel, rail, coal, mining, manufacturing, metal cutting, and plating.
Meet the Crew!
Richard Southorn, PE, PG, with 20 years of experience, joins Knoepke supporting solid waste and electric utility sectors. Southorn began his career in the field performing CQA oversight, environmental monitoring, and soil core/rock core logging at landfill sites. He moved into landfill design and modeling, primarily to support landfill expansion projects. Richard has extensive experience with site layouts, geotechnical stability, stormwater management, and leachate generation analyses.
Brett Miller is a Senior Designer with over 20 years of experience and proficiency in AutoCAD Civil 3D and Maya. Brett is capable of any production drafting and is highly skilled in understanding 3D space. This helps him support designs that fit into site-specific, real-world environments. Brett also creates 3D models and animations that illustrate the benefits of a design to our clients.
Niko Villanueva, PE, joins SCS with eight years of experience. Niko provides engineering and drafting support and is experienced in designing various landfill systems such as stormwater management, leachate and gas control, and foundation analysis. He has also prepared cost estimates and construction bid quantities for various projects and construction quality assurance services at multiple facilities.
Meet Spencer LaBelle, with six years of experience. Spencer provides solutions for stormwater-related projects, including stormwater management system design, permitting, and compliance. He provides a diverse portfolio of clients and industries with stormwater-related services and environmental compliance.
Zack Christ, PE, comes to SCS with 15 years of experience in solid waste and CCR landfill sectors. Zack has experience performing CQA oversight and CQA management of landfill final cover, base liner, and GCCS; environmental monitoring; and logging soil borings. He also has extensive landfill design and CAD experience in developing landfill siting and permitting application projects. Zack’s areas of expertise include geotechnical analyses, stormwater management, leachate management design, GCCS design, and cost estimating.
Recorded September 23, 2021, On-Demand Below
Our SCS Client Webinar focuses on landfill gas maintenance and how Landfill Operators create more efficient operations using their monitoring data. Scott Messier, Site Operations Manager at the Monterey Regional Waste Management District, will join us to describe how he finds efficiencies.
Our panel discusses common operational challenges such as locating new LFG wells, locating the cause of odors or surface emission monitoring hits, determining the cause of LFG migration to probes, identifying obstructions in the header network, getting more gas for a power plant and preventing migration, and identifying elevated temperature conditions.
Most everyone is familiar with IIAR2, the American National Standard for Safe Design of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems. They will refer to it as the Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practice (RAGAGEP) for our industry.
People often forget that IIAR2 is merely the RAGAGEP for the design of ammonia refrigeration systems, but not the installation. IIAR4-2020 is the current RAGAGEP for the installation of ammonia refrigeration systems. If we look through IIAR4, we find that it does, in fact, prohibit the practice of using sheet metal screws when installing insulation.
Section 8.1.11 states, “Screws, rivets, or any other jacket securement device that could pierce the underlying vapor retarder shall not be used. Only bands and seals shall be used to secure the jacketing.”
The EPA issued a newly approved alternative test method (ALT-143) for compliance with the enhanced monitoring provisions in the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) for MSW Landfills (40 CFR 63 Subpart AAAA updated March 26, 2020). The approved alternative method instead of Method 10 allows for direct monitoring of CO at a landfill gas well using a portable gas analyzer. The NESHAP requires weekly monitoring of CO at the landfill gas well if the gas temperature is over 145F and the regulatory agency has approved no higher operating value under the NSPS/EG rules or NESHAPs. The Solid Waste Working Group (SWWG) coordinated with landfill gas meter manufacturers (QED, Elkins Earthworks) to prepare this method.
EIL approved sharing a flow chart and Excel file that can be used for monitoring/documentation purposes when using this approved alternative “field instrument method.” Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your SCS air emissions/compliance expert or contact us at for details.
EPA will post the alternative test method to the Broadly Applicable Approved Alternative Test Methods | US EPA website page. Take note that the hyperlink in EPA’s letter is out of date.
The Solid Waste Working Group (SWWG) also submitted two alternative methods in lieu of Method 10 to EPA for approval using grab sample (canister, foil bag) and laboratory analysis, one with GC/FID and the other GC/TCD instrumentation. The SWWG coordinated with several national laboratories on the methods. EPA is completing its review of the two proposed methods, anticipating EPA approval before September 27, 2021, the effective date of the enhanced monitoring provisions.
Jonathan Meronek specializes in comprehensive stormwater management programs. He has conducted BMP and Pollutant Source Assessments (PSAs), written Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs), performed Training and Education classes and implemented Monitoring Implementation Plans (MIPs) for hundreds of facilities in the United States. His accreditations include IGP-TOR, QISP, ENV-SP, CPESC, QSP/D, with over eighteen years of supporting clients at SCS Engineers. As a State of California Industrial General Permit (IGP) Qualified Industrial Storm Water Practitioner (QISP) and QISP Trainer-of-Record (ToR), he finds stormwater solutions for a multitude of industrial clients.
When Endeavor Media (Stormwater Magazine, Wastewater Mag, and Water World) decided to launch their new education platform called “Stormwater University,” they reached out to Jonathan. He now has the good fortune of being one of twelve people to sit on Endeavor’s National Technical Advisory Board.
Jonathan is excited and looks forward to supporting his colleagues in stormwater management. He has promised not to add another post-nominal after his name.
StormCon and WaterPro Conference to be held as parallel events in 2021. Endeavor and the National Rural Water Association (NRWA) plan to hold their annual conferences, StormCon and the WaterPro Conference, as parallel events on September 13-15, 2021, at The Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
StormCon 2021, the industry’s leading conference on advancing the science and practice of stormwater management, will feature these tracks and professionals such as Jonathan Meronek ready to help! Jonathan is also a member of the StormCon Advisory Board!
Industrial Stormwater Management
This track covers industrial stormwater management and permitting, focusing on publicly and privately owned facilities covered by industrial stormwater permits or EPA’s stormwater multi-sector general permit. Such facilities range from small businesses located in urban areas, such as restaurants and automotive repair shops, to large sites such as manufacturing plants, transportation facilities, landfills and waste transfer stations, and mining operations.
Managing stormwater at industrial and manufacturing facilities
Stormwater management in the mining industry
Concerns for oil and gas facilities
Transportation activities: airports, ports, and fleet maintenance facilities
Managing stormwater on active landfill sites
Selection, installation, and maintenance of stormwater management systems on closed landfill sites
Storage and handling of hazardous waste
Inspecting industrial sites for stormwater compliance
Integrating industrial stormwater operations with municipal permits
Flood Modeling & Mitigation
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a model is worth a million. This track will focus on cutting-edge tools and technologies for designing stormwater infrastructure based on hydrology models.
1D, 2D, and 3D modeling
Flood plain simulation
Flood risk assessment
Programs, Permits & Compliance
This track covers the various aspects of complying with municipal stormwater permits and funding, staffing, and managing municipal and state stormwater programs.
Funding opportunities, such as bonds, development impact fees, and enterprise funds
Creating and managing a stormwater utility
Stormwater credit trading
Hiring, training, and managing staff
Strategies for meeting NPDES permit requirements
Building public education and outreach programs
Illicit discharge detection and elimination programs
Transportation & Construction Stormwater
Roads, bridges, highways, airports, and ports convey goods and people and stormwater runoff, transporting pollutants in the process. Sessions in this track will address concerns at these locations and active construction sites and offer strategies for addressing challenges.
Stormwater BMPs for transportation/construction sites
Programs and management
Illicit discharge detection/elimination
This technical track discusses methods for evaluating and comparing the effectiveness of best management practices and topics and trends in stormwater research, such as standardizing testing protocols and standards.
Performance standards and testing protocols
Evaluating BMP performance
Characterizing pollutant loads
Fate and transport of pollutants
Sampling tools and techniques
Bacterial detection and identification techniques
*Please note that descriptions of technologies or proprietary BMPs must be accompanied by supporting performance data. If your presentation deals with one or more BMPs, especially with proprietary systems, your abstract must indicate what supporting data the presentation will include.
This track showcases examples of green infrastructure and low impact development (LID), practices that strive to maintain or mimic the predevelopment hydrology by infiltrating, storing, filtering, and evaporating stormwater runoff rather than moving it offsite to a centralized stormwater system.
Infiltration and bioretention practices
Maintenance of green infrastructure practices
Rainwater harvesting and stormwater reuse