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NEWMOA formed a Landfill Post-Closure Care Workgroup in 2017 after a meeting of state solid waste management officials identified several important challenges that face agencies tasked with overseeing closed municipal solid waste landfill (MSWLF) sites. These challenges included:

  • Overseeing a large universe of facilities with very limited resources
  • The expiration of the "standard" 30-year post-closure care period for many facilities and the need for ongoing monitoring and maintenance
  • Working with municipalities that owned/operated MSWLFs and their ability to implement their post-closure plan, particularly the financial assurance mechanisms
  • Enforcing financial assurance plans

The Workgroup convenes state officials several times a year to discuss their programs and share information and strategies.

There are several thousand inactive MSWLFs in the northeast. Many of these were municipally-owned and unlined and stopped receiving waste after states imposed modern construction and operation requirements on MSWLFs over 30 years ago. Old waste continues to generate gas and leachate long after a landfill stops adding new waste. Therefore, states developed requirements to properly close a landfill, including: installing an engineered cap to protect against the release of hazardous constituents to the environment and a leachate and/or gas collection system. Unfortunately, some of these old landfills are still not properly closed and sometimes their location is forgotten.

States also developed long-term post-closure requirements for the owners and operators of closed landfills, including: maintaining the integrity of the landfill cap; making repairs as needed to the cap; monitoring water quality, settlement, and methane generation; maintaining the gas control, leachate collection, and storm water systems; providing financial assurance for the cost of post-closure care; and filing post-closure reports that summarize the condition of the cap and all other elements of the landfill closure. Not all closed landfill owners/operators fulfill their requirements, and states have established programs to follow-up and ensure compliance. When EPA first established requirements for MSWLFs, the post-closure care period was envisioned to be 30 years from site closure. However, the risk to the environment at some closed sites can continue for many more years. Therefore, states can extend the post-closure requirements beyond 30 years.

For more information, contact Jennifer Griffith

 

 

Last Modified 05/08/2019

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