Closing the Gaps in the Regulation of Municipal Solid Waste Landfills: Defining the End of the Post-Closure Monitoring Period and the Future Stability of Leachate Recirculation Landfills

EPA Grant Number: R827580
Title: Closing the Gaps in the Regulation of Municipal Solid Waste Landfills: Defining the End of the Post-Closure Monitoring Period and the Future Stability of Leachate Recirculation Landfills
Investigators: Barlaz, Morton A. , Gabr, Mohammed A.
Current Investigators: Barlaz, Morton A. , Gabr, Mohammed A. , Mohammed, P. E.
Institution: North Carolina State University
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: September 13, 1999 through September 12, 2000
Project Amount: $145,213
RFA: Futures: Detecting the Early Signals (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water , Sustainability , Land and Waste Management , Ecosystems , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration

Description:

The objective of this research is to develop a plan to establish the scientific basis for the appropriate regulation of municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. Landfills are projected to remain the dominant alternative for MSW management. Current regulations specify termination of the post-closure monitoring period 30 years after closure. While emissions are likely to continue well beyond 30 years, the EPA lacks the scientific basis to define an appropriate endpoint for post-closure monitoring. In addition, the increased use of leachate recirculation to enhance MSW decomposition is introducing new issues regarding landfill operation and changes in the properties of decomposed refuse. Issues include increased methane emissions, water management, settlement, and cover stability and design. Implementation of the research plan to be developed here will position the EPA to properly manage the thousands of landfills currently permitted under Subtitle D of RCRA after their closure.

Approach:

A comprehensive research plan will be developed to provide the EPA with the scientific basis required to regulate landfills in the future. The plan will be developed through a critical review and analysis of existing data and models that describe leachate composition, gas generation, geotechnical properties, waste compressibility, and cover system stability. The research will be conducted through a series of tasks to (1) review data on the composition of leachate associated with well decomposed refuse and to develop criteria for identification of stable leachate, (2) estimate the quantity and quality of water present in a landfill at the end of the post-closure monitoring period and subsequent leachate generation rates, (3) estimate methane emissions that will occur after the end of the post-closure monitoring period, (4) identify techniques for the measurement of geotechnical properties of MSW over time, and (5) review models of material compressibility that include biological decomposition and provide a rational analysis of cover system configuration in landfills that utilize leachate recirculation. In addition, a workshop will be conducted to solicit input from federal and state agencies as well as leading experts in landfill design relative to knowledge gaps and research needs.

Expected Results:

A research plan will be developed to fill the knowledge gaps that currently preclude the EPA from the development of more scientifically-based regulations pertaining to landfills operated with leachate recycle, and for landfills at the end of the post-closure period. The plan will include reevaluation of the concept of post-closure monitoring. This research will prepare the EPA to carefully define whether and how to terminate the post-closure monitoring period. This research will also identify issues for which additional regulation is required for landfills operated to enhance decomposition.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 7 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 2 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Municipal Solid Waste, Landfills, Leachate, Liners., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Waste, Municipal, Environmental Chemistry, Hazardous Waste, Ecological Risk Assessment, Hazardous, Exp. Research/future, geotechnical properties, emerging environmental problems, hazardous waste disposal, hazardous waste management, leachate recirculation landfills, municipal solid waste landfill regulations, landfill operation, methane emissions, municipal waste, decomposition, municipal solid waste landfills, post-closure monitoring period, environmental policy, landfills, solid waste landfills, municipal solid waste regulations, RCRA, water management

Relevant Websites:

http://www4.ncsu.edu:8030/~barlaz/post_closure/

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report