The obligation to care for closed landfills does not end when regulatory post-closure care periods are complete, according to a new technical policy just released by the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA).
Technical Policy 9.4—“The Long-Term Management of Municipal Solid Waste Landfills” states even after the end of the regulatory post-closure care period, landfill owners/operators should plan for the need to inspect and maintain the landfill’s final cover systems and to implement other environmental control systems to ensure ongoing protection of human health and the environment. The policy also says there should be a process to end long-term management obligations when site-specific monitoring data shows organic or functional stability with the final cover system in place.
“SWANA emphasizes the protection of human health and the environment, and it is sometimes difficult to accept that regulations that apply equally to all facilities at all times can take us only so far in accomplishing that,” said Tim Mitchell, past division director of SWANA’s Landfill Management Technical Division, in a statement. “This policy acknowledges that at the end of the regulated post-closure care period, additional oversight and maintenance may be required for a time but emphasizes that the additional needs should be determined individually for each site using site-specific data.”
In the United States, federal Subtitle D landfill regulations were introduced in 1991. Nearly 30 years later, few regulatory agencies have established guidance or funding requirements for long-term management of landfills after the completion of post-closure care periods. The SWANA policy recommends requirements be determined for each site on a case-by-case basis by a group consisting of the regulatory agency, landfill owner/operator and host community.
“I appreciate the dedicated and passionate input of the members of our Long-Term Management Committee who developed this policy,” said SWANA Executive Director and CEO David Biderman in a statement. “It builds on our previous technical policies about landfill operations and closure, while moving the bar in acknowledging that our obligation to protect public health and the environment is not finite.”