The EPA Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requires landfill operators to maintain post-closure care for 30 years, though states will adjust the term according to when they determine ending this care will not threaten human health or the environment. Industry stakeholders say it’s not enough guidance because it does not provide how states should assess for impact on human health or the environment, nor how to determine when to transition from active post-closure care to custodial care. Regulators tend to default to an extension of terms. Again data collection plays a significant role in determining the post-closure care term.
“The whole purpose of the post-closure care term is to provide enough time for landfills to become stable. One way to assess is by determining if functional stability has been achieved, which entails looking at performance metrics like leachate management, settlement, landfill gas control, and groundwater monitoring,” says Bob Gardner, of SCS Engineers.
Looking at these metrics, once it’s determined that functional stability has been achieved, these active systems may be able to be turned off, with only passive controls like cover remaining in place.
Monitoring may be done less frequently or not at all. “EPA acknowledges that back in the 1980s, it did not know how systems, primarily liner systems, would perform under new Subtitle D rules. But based on monitoring of these systems over the past 25 years, we know that they perform well to prevent migration of contaminants to groundwater,” says Gardner.
Read the Waste360 article Stakeholders Call for More Certain Landfill Post-closure Care Terms
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Comments were submitted to the EPA from NWRA/ SWANA regarding the EPA’s Advance Notice of Public Rule Making (ANPRM) for revisions to Subtitle D, and in particular potential revisions regarding the bulk liquids addition. Subtitle D prohibits bulk liquids additions with the exception of leachate recirculation, and the RD&D permit process allows bulk liquids. Bob Gardner of SCS Engineers was involved in the development of the joint NWRA/SWANA comment letter.
EPA has indicated that they are considering adding a “wet landfill” definition to Subtitle D; however, the Industry strongly advised against doing so. The letter addresses this issue and the reasons for recommending against a separate “wet landfill” definition.
The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs announced the release of the Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. The Agenda reports on the actions administrative agencies plan to issue in the near and long term. Of note:
The EPA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) regarding possible revisions to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle D part 258 regulations for municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills that may provide regulatory flexibility to encourage accelerated waste decomposition in the presence of water. In light of advances in landfill technology, the EPA is considering whether to revise part 258 to create new national standards for the management of liquids in “wet” landfills and bioreactor landfills, including the possibility of removing the prohibition on the addition of bulk liquids, to foster accelerated waste decomposition. Through the ANPRM, the EPA requested information and data on the performance of bioreactor landfills and wet landfills, including information on appropriate liquids management. In addition, the EPA requested comments on whether new national standards for bioreactor landfills and wet landfills are appropriate, and if so, what regulatory changes the EPA should consider in developing any proposal.
This proposal address the agency’s residual risk and technology review (RTR) of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Landfills. The MSW Landfills NESHAP, subpart AAAA, was promulgated pursuant to section 112(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) on January 16, 2003. The NESHAP established emission limitations based on maximum achievable control technology (MACT) for controlling emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAP) and helped implement the Urban Air Toxics Strategy developed under section 112(k) of the CAA. The HAP emitted by MSW landfills includes, but are not limited to, vinyl chloride, ethylbenzene, toluene, and benzene. This action implements the residual risk review requirements of CAA section 112(f)(2) and the technology review requirements of CAA section 112(d)(6). The statute directs the EPA to promulgate emission standards under CAA 112(f)(2) if such standards are required to provide an ample margin of safety to protect public health or to prevent, taking relevant factors into account, an adverse environmental effect. Any such standards are to be promulgated within 8 years after the promulgation of MACT standards under CAA section 112(d). CAA section 112(d)(6) requires the EPA to review and revise the MACT standards as necessary, taking into account developments in practices, processes and control technologies, no less often than every 8 years. Pursuant to a court order, the EPA is obligated to complete the final action by March 13, 2020. In consideration of this deadline, which also applies to 19 other RTR source categories, we established an internal schedule for this RTR to be proposed and finalized prior to the consent decree deadline. The EPA currently plans to complete this action by July 2019.
The EPA finalized the Emission Guidelines and Compliance Times for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills on August 29, 2016 (81 FR 59276). The requirements for state and federal plans implementing the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Landfills Emission Guidelines are specified in subpart B – 40 CFR 60.20-60 (referred to as the implementing regulations), which is cross-referenced in the emission guidelines issued by the Agency.
In August 2018, the EPA proposed changes to the implementing regulations governing emission guidelines under a new 40 CFR part 60, subpart Ba. This action aligns the regulatory text in the MSW Landfills Emission Guidelines with a cross-reference to the new subpart Ba for the timing requirements of state and federal plans.