Sanitary Landfill Planning

Key elements in the planning and implementation of a landfill include (1) legal requirements, (2) intermunicipal cooperation, (3) social and political factors, and (4) long-term planning issues. Landfill design considerations are considered in the section following the description of the types of landfills.

Legal Requirements State environmental protection agency regulations and local sanitary codes or laws usually build on federal regulatory requirements. A new solid waste disposal location may not be established until the site, design, and method of proposed operation, including waste reduction, resource recovery, and recycling, have been approved by the agency having jurisdiction. The agency should be authorized to approve a new solid waste disposal area and require such plans, reports, specifications, and other necessary data to determine whether the site is suitable and the proposed method of operation feasible. Intermunicipal planning and operation on a multimunicipal, multicounty, or multiregional basis should be given very serious consideration before a new solid waste disposal site is acquired. Larger landfills usually are more efficient and result in lower unit costs.

The principal federal requirements for municipal solid waste landfills are contained in Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and in EPA Regulations on Criteria for Classification of Solid Waste Disposal Facilities and Practices (Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Parts 257 and 258). The final version of Part 258—Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills (MSWLFs)—was signed on September 11, 1991. The subparts of Part 258 deal with the following areas:

Subpart A General

Subpart B Location restrictions

Subpart C Operating criteria

SANITARY LANDFILL PLANNING, DESIGN, AND OPERATION 243 TABLE 3.20 Types of Landfills Used in the United States"

Classification of Landfill Description

Conventional, municipal A sanitary landfill is a controlled method of solid waste disposal, following the recovery of materials for recycling, which complies with the legal federal requirements for municipal solid waste landfills contained in Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and in EPA Regulations on Criteria for Classification of Solid Waste Disposal Facilities and Practices (Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Parts 257 and 258) Conventional municipal landfills are discussed in detail in this section.

Municipal bioreactor Three types are identified: aerobic, anaerobic, and hybrid. Bioreactor landfills are designed to accelerate the biological stabilization of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste.

Aerobic Air is injected into the waste mass, using vertical or horizontal wells, to promote aerobic activity and accelerate waste stabilization. Leachate, removed from the bottom layer, is stored, and recirculated into the landfill in a controlled manner to obtain optimal moisture levels and, thus, both stimulate and accelerate the biological activity within the landfill.

Anaerobic Leachate, removed from the bottom layer, is stored, and recirculated into the landfill in a controlled manner to obtain optimal moisture levels and, thus, both stimulate and accelerate the biological activity within the landfill. Biodegradation occurs anaerobically (in the absence of oxygen) and produces landfill gases (carbon dioxide and methane). Landfill gas, primarily methane, is captured to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and for the production of energy.

Hybrid (Aerobic/anaerobic) The biodegradation of the waste degradation is accelerated by employing a sequential aerobic-anaerobic strategy to degrade organics in the upper sections of the landfill and to collect gas from lower sections.

Construction and demolition There are special landfills for the disposal of construction (C &D) and demolition waste that is not recovered.

Ash monofill There are special landfills for the disposal of ash from the combustion of municipal solid waste.

Industrial commercial There are special landfills for the disposal of industrial wastes such as coal ash, paper mill sludges and similar materials.

aAdapted in part from G. Tchobanoglous, and F. Kreith, Solid Waste Handbook, 2nd ed.,

McGraw-Hill, New York, 2002; U.S. EPA, Process Design Manual, Municipal Sludge Landfills,

EPA-625/1-78-010, EPA, Washington, DC. 1978; and U.S. EPA, Bioreactors, Office of Solid Waste,

EPA, Washington, DC. 2008,

Msw Landfill Diagram
FIGURE 3.23 Schematic diagram of configuration of selected engineering features at MSW landfills.

Subpart D Design criteria

Subpart E Groundwater monitoring and corrective action

Subpart F Closure and postclosure care

Subpart G Financial assurance

In addition, many state environmental protection agencies have parallel regulatory programs that deal specifically with their unique geologic and soil conditions and environmental and public policy issues.

Intermunicipal Cooperation—Advantages County or regional areawide planning and administration for solid waste collection, treatment, and disposal can help overcome some of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles to satisfactory solution of the problem. Some of the advantages of county or regional areawide solid waste management are the following:

1. It makes possible comprehensive study of the total area generating the solid wastes and consideration of an areawide solution of common problems on short-term and long-term bases. A comprehensive study can also help overcome the mutual distrust that often hampers joint operations among adjoining municipalities.

2. There is usually no more objection to one large site operation than to a single town, village, or city operation. Coordinated effort can therefore be directed at overcoming the objections to one site and operation, rather than to each of several town, village, and city sites.

3. The unit cost for the disposal of a large volume of solid waste is less. Duplication of engineering, overhead, equipment, labor, and supervision is eliminated.

4. Better operation is possible in an areawide service, as adequate funds for proper supervision, equipment, and maintenance can be more easily provided.

5. More sites can be considered. Some municipalities would have to resort to a more costly method because suitable landfill sites may not be available within the municipality.

6. County or regional financing for solid waste disposal often costs less, as a lower interest rate can usually be obtained on bonds because of the broader tax base.

7. A county agency or a joint municipal survey committee, followed by a county or regional planning agency, and then an operating department, district, or private contractor, is a good overall approach because it makes possible careful study of the problem and helps overcome interjurisdictional resistance.

Social and Political Factors An important aspect of solid waste disposal site selection, in addition to the factors mentioned below, is the evaluation of public reaction and education of the public so that understanding and acceptance are developed. A long-term program of public information is needed. Equally important are the climate for political cooperation, cost comparison of alternative solutions, available revenue, aesthetic expectations of the people, organized community support, and similar factors. Films and slides that explain proper sanitary landfill operations are available from state and federal agencies and equipment manufacturers. Sites having good operations can be visited to obtain first-hand information and show the beneficial uses to which a completed site can be put.

Long-Term Planning and Design Issues Local officials can make their task easier by planning ahead together on a county or regional basis for 20 to 40 years in the future and by acquiring adequate sites at least 5 years prior to anticipated needs and use. The availability of federal and state funds for planning, collection, recycling, treatment, and disposal of solid waste on an areawide basis such as a county or region should be explored. The planning will require compliance with public health, environmental, planning, and zoning requirements, both state and local; and an engineering analysis of alternative sites. Also required are population projections, volume and characteristics of all types of solid wastes to be handled, cost of land and site preparation, expected life of the site, haul distances from the sources of solid waste to the site, cost of equipment, cost of operation, cost of closure and maintenance, and possible use and value of the finished site.

Consideration must also be given to the climate of the region, including precipitation and prevailing winds; geology, soils, hydrology, flood levels, and topography; and the need for liners, leachate collection and treatment [National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit], and methane gas control. Location and drainage to prevent surfacewater and groundwater pollution, groundwater monitoring (at least one well up gradient and three wells down gradient), access roads to major highways, location of airports and wetlands, and availability of suitable cover material are other considerations. Public information and involvement should be an integral and continuing part of the planning process leading to a decision. The reader is referred to Chapter 6 for a discussion of the broad aspects of community and facility planning and environmental impact analysis.

Once a decision is made, it should be made common knowledge and plans developed to show how it is proposed to reclaim, improve, and reuse the site upon completion. Public education should include a series of talks, slides, news releases, question-and-answer presentations, and inspection of good operations. To aid in the planning process, Table 3.21 presents some general guidelines for landfill design, construction, and operation. Artist's renderings and architectural models are very helpful in explaining construction methods and final land use. Landscape architects can make a contribution in converting the sanitary landfill to a community asset, such as parks, playgrounds with picnic areas, nature trails, bicycle and jogging paths, and hills with scenic observation sites. Unfilled land sites or islands could be set aside for permanent buildings.

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