U.S. EPA Proposes Subtitle D Landfill Regulatory Changes

February 2001
San Diego, California

At the recent National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) WasteTech Conference in San Diego, Robert Dellinger of the U.S. EPA Office of Solid Waste addressed upcoming changes to the Subtitle D landfill rules. The U.S. EPA is required by law to re-examine the Subtitle D rules every 10 years. To that end, EPA sought general comments on Subtitle D in the Federal Register last year. They also sought some specific input on the subject of alternative liners and landfill bioreactors.

Mr. Dellinger is EPA’s lead in advancing landfill regulatory changes. To be sure, this will be a deliberate process. But most of these items should have the force of law within two years. And several can have a significant impact on landfills, particularly on bioreactors, leachate recirculation, alternative liners, airport bird hazard issues, and seismic issues.

SCS Engineers is active in NSWMA, and we helped sponsor the  WasteTech conference.  Mr. Dellinger did not publish his remarks, but here are the Subtitle D related items that he and EPA are considering:

  1. By December 2001, EPA will advance a proposed or draft regulatory change in the Federal Register to allow leachate recirculation atop liners. This will require regulatory approval on a case by case basis. Each applicant will need to demonstrate that the 150 m ground water performance standard under Subtitle D is being met. Note that this requires an equivalence demonstration via groundwater flow modeling (using say the Multimed ground water model) from the landfill waste mass to the landfill’s property or performance boundary. A demonstration of equivalence of a proposed liner alternate with the prescriptive Subtitle D liner (via say HELP modeling) is not the approach required here.This rule should go final in the Federal Register in late 2001, or somewhat later.
  2. By December 2001, EPA will advance a regulatory change in the Federal Register to allow states to permit landfill bioreactors as demonstration projects. This is not currently allowed under Subtitle D. EPA believes it can go final with this rule in the Federal Register by Early 2002.
  3. By December 2001, EPA will issue a primer or guidance document on landfill bioreactors that will identify those areas associated with landfill bioreactors that may prove problematic. This is intended to have state regulatory officials as its audience, as they review proposed landfill bioreactor demonstration projects.
  4. By December 2001, EPA will advance a draft rule in the Federal Register that will allow “clean closure” of landfills. This would be for small landfills where all waste is removed from the site. That site could then be clean closed, and post-closure care and financial assurance could be discontinued.EPA sees this as being useful to tribes and small municipalities.
  5. By late summer 2001, EPA envisions issuing its final, updated, consolidated rule on airports and bird hazards. This would incorporate the 5 mile notice to FAA requirement and the recent FAA law, both of which restrict landfill development around airports, but were issued after Subtitle D. This way, the federal landfill rules of record will reflect all applicable laws and rules on the airport bird hazard issue.
  6. EPA is now examining the latest USGS seismic maps to see how the seismic zones have changed. The current EPA Subtitle D guidance document uses old USGS maps on seismic ratings.
  7. EPA is simultaneously reviewing all of the old Subtitle D guidance document to see if other updates and changes are needed. If so, changes will be issued.
  8. EPA will continue to examine and consider all comments and input received from their multiple Federal Register requests for Subtitle D changes and bioreactor input data.