EPA Issues Emission Standards for Landfills

THE U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., has published a final rule for landfill emissions, adding four new reporting and control guidelines to existing Emission Guidelines and New Source Performance Standards (EG/NSPS).

The rule fulfills the requirements of section 112(d) of the Clean Air Act. This section requires the use of maximum achievable control technology (MACT) to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), including vinyl chloride, ethyl benzene, toluene and benzene.

According to the rule, if a landfill is near a major source or if its design capacity is less than 2.5 million Mega grams (Mg), it only needs to comply with EG/NSPS requirements and does not have to heed the new rules.

The new measures address: new startup, shutdown and malfunction (SSM) requirements; additional operating condition deviations for out-of-bounds monitoring parameters; timely control requirements of bioreactor landfills; and a change in the frequency of one type of report.

Of the four measures, industry officials say bioreactor landfills will be affected most significantly by the final rule. A bioreactor landfill is defined as a municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill or a portion of an MSW landfill in which any liquid other than leachate is added in a controlled manner to the waste mass. Under Subtitle D, leachate is the only liquid that may be added to landfills. Timely control requirements mean the gas collection system must be installed and running within 180 days of operating the landfill in bioreactor mode.

Ed Repa, director of environmental management programs for National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), Washington, D.C., says the cost of implementing the final rule requirements in daily practice will vary. “If you are converting an old landfill to a bioreactor, the final rule may have no effect. If you start from scratch, it could get expensive.”

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Md., supports the EPA's rule. “We are very supportive of the rule for early gas collection,” says SWANA Executive Director John Skinner. “We felt that beginning a gas collection system within a reasonable period of time was a very good safeguard. We think it will improve public acceptability of bioreactor landfills and that they will be considered an environmentally sound option.”

Chris Campman, solid waste manager with Gannett Fleming Engineers and Consultants, Camp Hill, Pa., says gas control systems eventually will have to be developed and regulated for aerobic landfills, just as they were in the EPA's ruling for anaerobic landfills.

The final rule contains five compliance dates, depending on whether a landfill is a newly affected source, an existing affected source or a bioreactor landfill. For a complete list of compliance dates, reference the June 16, 2003, Federal Register (68 FR 2227). To access the full report, visit www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fedreg/a030116c.html.