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United States Solid Waste EPA/530-SW-91-089

Environmental Protection and Emergency Response March 1993

Agency (OS-305)

Criteria for Solid Waste

Disposal Facilities
A Guide for Owners/Operators

To make waste management more EPAs continuing mission is to minimize

effective, federal, state, tribal, and local the risks from landfills. The criteria
governments are adopting an integrated described in this booklet are an
approach to waste management. This important part of this effort. They
strategic approach involves a mix of establish minimum national standards
three waste management techniques: 1) for landfill design, operation, and
decreasing the amount and/or toxicity management that will enhance landfill
of waste that must be disposed of by safety and boost public confidence in
producing less waste to begin with landfills as a component of a workable
(source reduction); 2) increasing integrated waste management system.
recycling of materials such as paper,
glass, steel, plastic, and aluminum, thus
recovering these materials rather than
discarding them; and 3) providing safer
disposal capacity by improving the
design and management of incinerators
and landfills.

Source reduction and recycling will

keep a lot of waste out of municipal
landfills, but we still need landfills. The
must set up a
challenge is to make them safe in order
system to ensure
to protect our communities and our
that hazardous
wastes are kept out
of municipal
...environment-and that requires a strong partnership of federal, state, and tribal governments; industry; and citizens.
his booklet summarizes the provisions of the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency’s (EPA's) Municipal Solid Waste Landfill (MSWLF)
Criteria. It discusses the major requirements of these regulations, who is
required to comply and when, how the rule will be implemented and enforced,
and where to obtain more information. States and Indian tribes are expected to
adopt these federal standards and implement the regulations through their own
permit programs. This booklet highlights the increased flexibility given to states
and tribes that develop EPA-approved programs.

This booklet provides only an overview of the federal regulations. Readers

affected by them should refer to the actual regulations, which are published in
Volume 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 258 (see the Federal Register,
October 9,1991, 56FR50978). The Agency encourages landfill owners/operators to
work with their respective state or tribal authorities, since state
and tribal programs may. have different . .

Although written primarily for

owners/operators of municipal
solid waste landfills, this booklet
also will be useful for others,
including state and tribal govern-
ment officials, who are responsible
for implementing the regulations.


he problems caused by municipal
solid waste landfills have become
a source of public concern in recent
years. As Americans have become more aware
of the potential threat to health and the
environment from toxic substances, they also
have become more concerned about the
generation and management of solid waste —
sometimes to the point of refusing to allow
new landfills near their homes. Americans
are generating more municipal solid waste
each year, but available landfill space is
declining. In 1990, Americans generated
over 195 million tons of municipal
solid waste, and the annual amount is
expected to increase to more than
220 million tons by 2000.

restrictions, operating and design

The Purpose of These criteria, and requirements for final cover
Regulations and post-closure care. The regulations
also require ground-water monitoring to
detect any releases of contaminants from
istorically, landfills have been

with some
and effective
action and financial
ensure immediate
to such releases.

partly explains the public’s resistance to

new facilities.

Ground-water contamination. Nearly Some Definitions Under

half the country’s population draws its
drinking water from aquifers and other
the Regulations
ground-water bodies. Ground water
also is used extensively for agricultural, Municipal solid waste landfill (MSWLF): A discrete area
industrial, and recreational purposes. of land or an excavation that receives household waste,
Landfills can contribute to the and that is not a land application unit, surface
contamination of this valuable resource impoundment, injection well, or waste pile, as those terms
if they are not designed to prevent waste are defined in the law. (Household waste includes any
releases into ground water or detect solid waste, including garbage, trash, and septic tank
them when they occur. Cleaning up waste derived from houses, apartments, hotels, motels,
contaminated ground water is a long campgrounds, and picnic grounds.) An MSWLF unit also
and costly process and in some cases may receive other types of wastes as defined under
may not be totally successful. Affected Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
communities often bear both the (RCRA), such as commercial solid waste, nonhazardous
cleanup costs and the expense of sludge, small quantity generator waste, and industrial
providing other sources of potable solid waste. Such a landfill maybe publicly or privately
water. By adopting a philosophy of owned. An MSWLF unit can be a new unit, an existing
prevention, the regulations’ improved unit, or a lateral expansion (see definitions below).
design standards will protect ground
water. Existing unit: A municipal solid waste landfill unit that is
receiving solid waste as of October 9,1993. Waste
Difficulties in landfill siting. The placement in existing units must be consistent with past
problem of managing the increased operating practices or modified practices to ensure good
volume of municipal solid waste is management.
compounded by rising public resistance
to siting new landfills. The regulations Lateral expansion: A horizontal expansion of the waste
are designed to ensure that new or boundaries of an existing unit; does not include expansion
expanded landfills do not contaminate in the vertical dimension.
ground water and thus become
community burdens. As a result, they New unit: Any municipal solid waste landfill unit that has
protect the intrinsic value of ground not received waste prior to October 9,1993.
water and can help avert the pressures
associated with landfills that can drive Small landfill: A landfill serving a community that
down property values. disposes of less than 20 tons of municipal solid waste per
day, averaged yearly.
Specific prevention measures written
into the regulations include location

EPA has carefully considered the need only comply with the
impacts of the regulations on local requirements for-final cover (see page
governments. Where possible, EPA has 16). Landfills that stopped accepting
written the regulations to allow waste before October 9, 1991, do not
flexibility in both the technical need to comply with these regulations.
requirements and their implementation.
For example, the regulations provide The regulations apply to landfills that
relief from the more costly requirements accept household waste, which means
for certain small landfills. Moreover, any solid waste (including garbage,
states and tribes with EPA-approved trash, and sanitary waste in septic tanks)
landfill permitting programs are given derived from households (including
the opportunity to provide considerable single and multiple residences, hotels
flexibility in applying all major and motels, bunkhouses, ranger
components of the landfill criteria, so stations, crew quarters, campgrounds,
that site-specific conditions can be picnic grounds, and day-use recreation
considered in such areas as design and areas). They do not apply to units
ground-water monitoring. (including landfills, surface
impoundments, waste piles, and land
application units) that accept only
industrial nonhazardous waste (e.g.,
Who Is Covered? construction/demolition landfills).
(owners/operators of these units would

he regulations apply to owners/ be required to comply with the
operators of all municipal solid provisions of 40 CFR Part 257.)
waste landfills that receive waste
ills receiving waste on or after Octpber 9, 1993, must comply with
onthe or
after October 9, 1993. Landfills As mentioned, owners/operators of
that stop accepting waste between certain small landfills may be eligible
October 9,1991, and October 9,1993, for exemption from the regulations
governing design, ground-water
monitoring, and corrective action.
See the section entitled “Exemptions
for Small Landfills,” page 5.

When Do the
Requirements Apply?

he requirements concerning
location restrictions, design criteria
(new and lateral expansion units
only), operating criteria, and closure/post-
closure care are effective October 9, 1993.
Ground-water monitoring and corrective
action requirements are effective three,
four, or five years after October 9,1991,
depending on a unit’s proximity to
drinking water intakes (see sidebar,
page 15). The financial assurance
requirements are effective April 9,1994.

These dates reflect the requirements of this potential flexibility, which extends
the federal MSWLF criteria. Contact to all parts of the regulations (see box,
your state or tribal authority to deter- page 6).
mine specific state/tribal effective dates.
Implementation in states/tribes
without approved programs
Implementation EPA expects that although most states
will be approved by the effective date of
of the Regulations: the rule, some simply may not apply. In
these cases, owners/operators are
Federal, State, Tribal, required to implement the federal
and Owner/Operator regulations. Each owner/operator must
document compliance and supply this
Responsibilities documentation to the state or tribe on
request. Owners/operators must
Implementation by approved comply with state/tribal requirements.
states and Indian tribes
States and tribes are entitled to develop
Citizen roles
While state, tribal, and local
their own permitting programs
governments are responsible for
incorporating the federal landfill criteria
ensuring compliance with their waste
to ensure that owners/operators are
programs, private citizens play an
complying. States and tribes also may
important role, too. Individuals can
establish requirements that are more
help ensure that facilities comply with
stringent than those set by the federal
state or tribal rules and regulations
government. EPA's role is to review
through such activities as participating
and approve these programs.
in any public meetings regarding
landfill siting and permit issuance, and
EPA is developing the State/Tribal
working closely with their responsible
Implementation Rule, which will
state, tribal, and local officials. Citizens
delineate the requirements for receiving
also have the right to sue landfill
EPA approval. For permit programs to
owners/operators who are not in
be considered adequate, a state or tribe
compliance with the federal regulations.
must have the capability of issuing
permits or some other form of prior
approval, and must establish conditions
requiring owners/operators to comply Exemptions for Small
with the landfill regulations. A state or
tribe must also be able to ensure Landfills
compliance through monitoring and
enforcement actions and must provide

proximately 6,000 municipal
for public participation. landfills are potentially subject
to the criteria. Quite a few —
By securing approval for its program, a nearly 50 percent — are defined as
state or tribe has the opportunity for “small” landfills, meaning they receive
more flexibility and discretion in an average of no more than 20 tons of
implementing the criteria according to municipal solid waste per day (figured
local needs and conditions. Owners/ annually). These landfills generally
operators located in a jurisdiction with serve communities of fewer than 10,000
an approved program may benefit from people.

The landfill design, ground-water landfill is located in an area that

monitoring, and corrective action receives less than 25 inches of
provisions required under the criteria precipitation annually.
are likely to be expensive. Small
communities might be unable to spread 2) There is no evidence of ground-
these costs among many users, thereby water contamination and the
leading to significant increases in per- community undergoes an annual
capita disposal assessments. interruption of surface transporta-
tion, lasting at least three
The regulations are designed to provide consecutive months, that prevents
the opportunity for some relief from the access to a regional facility. This
more costly requirements without exemption is less widespread since,
compromising human health or the for example, it maybe more
environment. An owner/operator of a applicable to certain communities
small landfill may be exempted from the in rural Alaska.
Some small landfills
design, ground-water monitoring, and serving small
corrective action requirements under These exemptions are available to communities, such
two circumstances: qualifying small landfills in all states or as this one in the
tribal jurisdictions, even those without dry, western United
1) There is no evidence of ground- EPA-approved permitting programs, States, may qualify
water contamination, the providing the state or tribal program for exemption from
community has no practical waste does not restrict the exemption. some of the
management alternative, and the requirements.

Special (The exemptions supplement the

restrictions apply flexibility in implementing the
Complying With
to landfills sited
in floodplains,
regulations given all communities in the Regulations
states and tribal jurisdictions with
indicated here as
approved programs. See page 6.)
the shaded area. he regulations describe six

must show why they
T categories
of criteria for
solid waste landfills:

qualify and include the documenting

1) Location
information in their operating records.
Owners/operators are also required to 2) Operation
comply with all other MSWLF
3) Design
regulations, including the location,
operation, closure and post-closure, and 4) Ground-water monitoring and
financial assurance provisions. corrective action

5) Closure and post-closure care

If the owner/operator of an exempt
6) Financial assurance
facility learns of ground-water
contamination at the site, the exemption
Owners/operators are responsible for
is no longer applicable and the owner/
reviewing the criteria to determine
operator must comply with the
which of the provisions apply to their
requirements for design, ground-water
landfill(s). (Owners/operators should
monitoring, and corrective action.
refer to EPA's Technical Manual for Solid

Waste Disposal Facility Criteria for

details.) They should also bear in mind
Location Criteria Summary
that state or tribal programs might
include provisions that do not mirror Location Applicability Closure
the federal provisions discussed below. If Demonstration
Owners/operators are therefore Cannot Be Met?
encouraged to work with their state and
Airport Safety N,E,L Yes
tribal regulators in complying with the
Floodplains N,E,L Yes
Wetlands N,L No
Fault Areas N,L No
Seismic Impact N,L No
There are six location restrictions that
apply to municipal landfills. Owners/
Unstable Areas N,E,L Yes
operators must demonstrate that their
units meet the criteria and keep the *(N=New,E=Existing,L=Lateral Expansion)
demonstration documents in the facility
operating record.

If an owner/operator cannot show If an owner/operator plans to build a

compliance with the airport safety, new unit or laterally expand an existing
floodplain, or unstable-area provisions, unit within 5 miles of any airport, the
the unit must be closed by October 9, airport and the Federal Aviation
1996. However, states and tribes with Administration must be notified.
EPA-approved programs can extend
2. Floodplains ThIe regulations
this deadline by as much as two years
Units located in 100-year floodplains impose special
when no alternative waste management
cannot restrict the flow of the 100-year requirements on
capacity exists and there is no
flood, reduce the temporary water landfills near airports
immediate threat to human health and
storage capacity of the floodplain, or to prevent
the environment.
allow the washout of solid waste. compromises to air
traffic safety.
Restricted areas

1. Airports
The owner/operator
of a municipal
landfill located
within 10,000 feet of
the end of any
airport runway used
by turbojet aircraft,
or within 5,000 feet of
any airport runway
used only by piston-
type aircraft, must
demonstrate that the
unit does not pose a
bird hazard.

3. Wetlands proper compensation (e.g.,

In general, owners/operators of new or restoring damaged wetlands or
expanding municipal landfills may not creating man-made wetlands).
build or expand in wetlands. However,
states or tribes with EPA-approved 4. Fault areas
permitting programs can make New units or lateral expansions are
exceptions for units able to show: generally prohibited within 200 feet of
fault areas that have shifted since the
● No siting alternative is available.
last Ice Age. However, the director of an
● Construction and operation will approved state or tribal program may
not (1) violate applicable state/ allow an alternative setback distance of
tribal regulations on water quality less than 200 feet if the owner/operator
or toxic effluent; (2) jeopardize any can show that the unit will maintain
endangered or threatened species structural integrity in the event of a fault
or critical habitats; or (3) violate displacement.
protection of a marine sanctuary.
● The unit will not cause or 5. Seismic impact zones
contribute to significant When anew or laterally expanding unit
Landfills may not
be built in unstable degradation of wetlands. is located in a seismic impact zone, its
areas prone to containment structures (liners, leachate
● Steps have been taken to achieve no
landslides, mud- collection systems, surface-water control
net loss of wetlands by avoiding
slides, or sinkholes, systems) must be designed to resist the
effects where possible, minimizing
such as the one effects of ground motion due to
shown here. unavoidable impacts, or making

6. Unstable areas cover requirement (if local climate

All owners/operators must show that conditions make such a requirement
the structure of their units will not be impractical).
compromised during “destabilizing
events,” including: 3. Vectors
The owner/operator is responsible for
Debris flows resulting from heavy controlling vector populations. Vectors
rainfall. include any rodents, flies, mosquitoes,
or other animals or insects capable of
● Fast-forming sinkholes caused by
transmitting disease to humans.
excessive ground-water
Application of cover at the end of each
operating day generally controls vectors.
● Rockfalls set off by explosives or
sonic booms. 4. Explosive gases
● The sudden liquification of the soil The owner/operator must set up a
program to check for methane gas
after a long period of repeated
wetting and drying. emissions at least every three months. If
the limits specified in the regulations are
exceeded, the owner/operator must
Operation immediately notify the state/tribal
All owners/operators must comply director (that is, the official in the state or
with the requirements for proper area responsible for implementing the
management of municipal solid waste landfill criteria) and take immediate
landfills. These cover a-range of steps to protect human health and the
procedures, including environment. The owner/operator also
must develop and implement a
1. Receipt of regulated hazardous waste remediation plan within 60 days. States
The owner/operator must set up a and tribal jurisdictions with approved
program to detect and prevent disposal programs may alter this interval.
of regulated quantities of hazardous
wastes and polychlorinated biphenyl 5. Air quality
(PCB) wastes. The program must Open burning of waste is not permitted
include procedures for random except for infrequent burning of
inspections, record keeping, training of agricultural waste, silvicultural waste,
personnel to recognize hazardous and land-clearing debris, diseased trees, or
PCB wastes, and notification of the debris from emergency clean-up
appropriate authorities if such waste is operations. Owners/operators must
discovered at the facility. comply with the applicable
requirements of their State
2. Cover material Implementation Plans for meeting
The owner/operator must cover federal air quality standards.
disposed solid waste with at least 6
inches of earthen material at the end of 6. Access
each operating day to control vectors, The owner/operator must control
fires, odors; blowing litter, and public access to prevent illegal
scavenging. An approved state or tribe dumping, unauthorized vehicular
may allow an owner/operator to use an traffic, and public exposure. Artificial
alternative cover material or depth, and/or natural barriers may be used to
and/or grant a temporary waiver of the control access.

7. Storm water run-on/run-off 9. Liquids

The owner/operator must build and A landfill cannot accept bulk or
maintain a control system designed to noncontainerized liquid waste unless (1)
prevent storm waters from running on the waste is nonseptic household waste,
to the active part of the landfill. The or (2) it is leachate or gas condensate
run-on control system must be able to that is recirculated to the landfill, and
handle water flows as heavy as those the unit is equipped with a composite
expected from the worst storm the area liner and leachate collection system as
might undergo in 25 years. described below under “Design.”

The owner/operator also must build Containers of liquid waste maybe

and maintain a surface water run-off placed in the landfill only if the
control system that can collect and containers: (1) are similar in size to those
control, at a minimum, the surface water typically found in household waste,
volume that results from a 24-hour, 25- such as cleaning, automotive, or home-
year storm. Run-off waters must be improvement products (i.e., containers
managed according to the requirements such as 55-gallon drums are excluded);
of the Clean Water Act, particularly with (2) are designed to hold liquids for use
regard to the restrictions on the other than storage; or (3) hold only
discharge of pollutants into water household waste (containers collected in
Owners and
bodies and wetlands. routine pickups from households).

operaters must
8. Surface water protection 10. Record-keeping
ensure that each
day‘s waste is All landfills must be operated in a way Owners/operators are required to keep
covered to control that ensures they do not release certain documents in or near the facility,
litter and disease- pollutants that violate the Clean Water including
bearing vermin. Act, which protects surface waters.
● Location restriction

● Procedures for excluding

hazardous waste.

● Gas monitoring results.

● Leachate or gas condensate system

design documentation.

● Ground-water monitoring and

corrective action data and
Maximum Contaminant Levels
(as of October 9, 1991)
● Closure and post-closure plans.
Chemical MCL (mg/1)
● Cost estimates and financial
Arsenic 0.05
assurance documentation.
Barium 1.0
Benzene 0.005
Cadmium 0.01
Design Carbon tetrachloride 0.005
The criteria for landfill design apply Chromium (hexavalent) 0.05
only to new units and lateral 2,4-Dichlorophenoxy acetic acid 0.1
expansions. (Existing units are not 1,4-Dichlorobenzene 0.075
1,2-Dichloroethane 0.005
required to retrofit liner systems.) The
1,1-Dichloroethylene 0.007
criteria give owners/operators two basic Endrin 0.0002
design options. Fluoride 4
Lindane 0.004
First, in states and tribal areas with EPA- Lead 0.05
Mercury 0.002
approved programs, owners/operators
Methoxychlor 0.1
may build their landfills to comply with
Nitrate 10
a design approved by the state/tribal Selenium 0.01
director. In approving the design, the Silver 0.05
director must ensure that it meets the Toxaphene 0.005 .
EPA performance standard, i.e., that 1,1,1-Trichloromethane 0.2
Trichloroethylene 0.005
Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs)
2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxy acetic acid 0.01
will not be exceeded in the uppermost Vinyl chloride 0.002
aquifer at a “relevant point of
compliance.” This point is determined
by the approved-state/tribal director,
but it must be no farther than 150 meters membrane and a lower layer of soil at
from the landfill unit boundary and on least 2 feet thick with a hydraulic
land owned by the landfill owner. (EPA conductivity of no greater than 1 X 10-7
has already set MCLs for a number of cm/sec. The leachate collection system
solid waste constituents; see table.) must be designed to keep the depth of
the leachate over the liner to less than 30
In reviewing these performance-based centimeters.
designs, approved states and tribes also
must consider other factors, such as the The criteria also provide an option for
hydrogeologic characteristics of the owners/operators in nonapproved
facility and surrounding land, the local states or tribal jurisdictions to use the
climate, and the amount and nature of performance standard (rather than the
the leachate. EPA design described above), providing
that both of the following conditions are
The second option is a design developed met:
by EPA that consists of a composite liner
and a leachate collection system. In EPA does not promulgate a State/
general, landfills in states or tribal Tribal Implementation Rule by
jurisdictions without EPA-approved October 9,1993.
programs must use this design. The
composite liner system combines an ● The state or tribe determines that
upper liner of a synthetic flexible the alternative design meets the

performance standard in the the quality of the uppermost aquifer (1)

federal criteria; the state or tribe beneath the landfill before it has passed
petitions EPA to review this deter- the landfill boundary (to determine
mination; and EPA does not deny background quality) and (2) at a
the determination within 30 days. relevant point of compliance (down-
gradient). Owners/operators should
Ground-Water Monitoring consider the specific characteristics of
the sites when establishing their
and Corrective Action
monitoring systems, but the systems
This section sets criteria for ground-
must be certified as adequate by a
water monitoring systems, programs for
qualified ground-water scientist or the
sampling and analysis of ground water,
director of an EPA-approved state/
and corrective action as necessary to
tribal program.
ensure that human health and the
environment are protected. Here, as In approved states and tribal jurisdic-
with the other provisions in the federal
tions, an owner/operator maybe able to
criteria, approved states and tribes may
obtain a variance from the ground-water
adopt programs with requirements that monitoring requirements if the owner/
are more stringent than the federal
operator can demonstrate that the
criteria. Again, owners/operators are landfill is located over a geologic
encouraged to work closely with their
structure that will prevent hazardous
states or tribes. constituent migration to the ground
water. The demonstration must show
Ground-water monitoring systems
that no migration of constituents from
Generally, ground-water monitoring
the unit will occur during the unit’s life,
Performance of a must be conducted at all MSWLF units.
including the closure and post-closure
landfill cover must Owners/operators must install enough
meet certain federal care period.
ground-water monitoring wells in the
minimum criteria. appropriate places to accurately assess

Detection and assessment monitoring

States and tribes with EPA-approved ScheduIe for Implementing
programs have the flexibility to design
ground-water monitoring programs that
are well-suited to the landfills operating
An EPA-approved state or tribe can set its own
in their area, and that may therefore
schedule, provided at least 50 percent of all the state’s or
differ from the federal program. In
tribe’s units comply by October 9,1994, and all are in
states/tribes without an approved
compliance by October 9,1996.
permit program, owners/operators
must follow the federal regulations If a state or tribe has not been approved by EPA,
describing detection and assessment owners/operators must comply with the following
monitoring. schedule for installing ground-water monitoring
During detection monitoring, owners/ . If a site is less than 1 mile in any direction from a
operators must take ground-water drinking water intake (whether surface or ground-
samples and analyze them for specific water), by October 9,1994.
constituents (as defined in the federal
regulations or by the director of an ● If the site is farther than 1 mile but less than 2
approved state/tribal program). Under miles, by October 9,1995.
the federal regulations, sampling and . If the site is more than 2 miles, by October 9, 1996.
analysis must be conducted at least
New units must install monitoring systems prior to
twice a year. Approved state/tribal
accepting any waste.
programs may set alternative
frequencies, but sampling and analysis
must be done at least annually. If
significant ground-water contamination
is detected, owners/operators may seek federal regulations. As in detection
to demonstrate that the results are due monitoring, if ground-water analysis
to contamination from other sources, shows significant contamination,
sampling error, or natural variation in owners/operators might be able to
ground-water quality. Otherwise, make the determination that the landfill
owners/operators must notify the is not the source of the contamination. If
appropriate state/tribal official and the owner/operator cannot make this
begin assessment monitoring. determination, then the ground water
must be cleaned up (see “Corrective
The purpose of assessment monitoring Action” below). In EPA-approved states
is to determine the nature and extent of and tribes, it must be cleaned up to
ground-water contamination. During levels specified by the state/tribal
assessment monitoring, ground-water director; in nonapproved states and
must be analyzed both for constituents tribes, contamination must not exceed
detected initially and for other federal limits set for drinking water
constituents (defined in the federal quality or background levels.
criteria or by the director of an approved
state/tribal program). States and tribes The federal ground-water monitoring
with EPA-approved programs specify requirements are more complex and
the frequency for sampling and analysis technical than described here. A
conducted during assessment thorough explanation of the regulations
monitoring. In nonapproved states and can be found in EPA's Technical Manual
tribes, the frequency is specified in the for Solid Waste Disposal Facility Criteria.

Ground-water monitoring regulations in of the remedy. The owner/operator

states and tribes with EPA-approved must continue corrective action until
programs may differ somewhat from compliance with the clean-up standard
the federal regulations. Landfill has been met for three consecutive
owners/operators conducting ground- years, although the director of an
water monitoring in nonapproved states approved state or tribal program may
and tribes must comply with the federal specify a different period.
regulations in addition to their state’s or
tribe’s regulations. In all cases, the Closure and Post-Closure
owner/operator is encouraged to work
with his or her state or tribe to ensure
The criteria establish specific standards
compliance with all applicable
for all owners/operators to follow when
closing a landfill and setting up a
program of monitoring and
The corrective action program
maintenance during the post-closure
Cleaning up ground water requires
period. The owner/operator must enter
corrective action. The owner/operator
the closure and post-closure plans into
must assess corrective measures and
the landfill’s operating records by
select the appropriate one(s). During
October 9,1993, or by the initial receipt
corrective action, the owner/operator
of waste, whichever is later.
must continue ground-water
Some owners/operators monitoring in accordance with the
may choose to install Owners/operators of landfills that stop
assessment monitoring program.
leachate collection receiving waste between October 9,
systemsr such as the one 1991, and October 9,1993, must install
While evaluating potential remedies, the
shown here. These final covers that meet the federal criteria
owner/operator must hold a public
systems are designed to within six months of the last receipt of
meeting to discuss them. Once the
collect any fluids that waste. Here again, owners/operators
seep down through the remedy has been selected, the owner/
should work with their state or tribal
landfill. The fluids can operator is responsible for carrying it
program officials to ensure that all
be recycled in the out. During this period, a ground-water
applicable closure requirements are
landfill or treated for monitoring program must be
disposal elsewhere. established to measure the effectiveness

The final cover must be designed and

constructed to have a permeability less
than or equal to the bottom liner system Closing a Landfill — and Beyond
or natural subsoils, or a permeability no
Owners/operators must follow certain
greater than 1X10-5 cm/see, whichever is procedures when closing a municipal landfill,
lower. Thus, the regulation is in the including the following
form of a performance standard that
must be achieved by the owner/ The state or tribe must be notified prior to closure.
A closure plan must be prepared.

The final cover must be constructed of The final cover must consist of at least 18 inches of
an infiltration layer composed of a earthen material of a specified permeability, with
minimum of 18 inches of earthen an erosion layer at least 6 inches thick. (An
material to minimize the flow of water approved state/ tribe may allow an alternative
into the closed landfill. The cover must cover design.)
also contain an erosion layer to prevent An independent certified engineer must certify that
the disintegration of the cover. The closure was conducted in accordance with the
erosion layer must be composed of a plan.
minimum of 6 inches of earthen material
capable of sustaining plant growth. The deed of property must note that the property
was used as a landfill and that future use is
When a landfill’s bottom liner system restricted.
includes a flexible membrane or For 30 years following closure (or an alternative
synthetic liner, the addition of a flexible period designated by an approved state or tribe),
liner in the infiltration layer cover will owners/operators are responsible for maintaining the
generally be the only design that will integrity of the final cover, continuing to monitor
allow the final cover design to achieve a ground water and methane, and continuing leachate
permeability less than or equal to the management.
bottom liner.

The director of an approved state or

tribe may approve an alternative final effective April 9, 1994.
cover design that achieves an
equivalent reduction in infiltration The owner/operator must demonstrate
and protection from erosion as the financial responsibility for the costs of
design described above. closure, post-closure care, and corrective
action for known releases. This require-
For 30 years after closure, the owner/ ment can be satisfied by the following
operator is responsible for maintaining mechanisms:
the integrity of the final cover, monitor-
ing ground water and methane gas, and Trust fund with a pay-in period.
continuing leachate management.
Surety bond.
(Approved states/tribes may vary this
interval.) Letter of credit.

Financial Assurance Guarantee.
All units except those owned or
State assumption of responsibility.
operated by state or federal govern-
ment entities must comply with the Multiple mechanisms (a combina-
financial assurance criteria, which are tion of those listed above).
Owners/operators of landfills in Conclusion
approved states or tribal jurisdictions
may also use other state-approved
he standards described in this

booklet are federal minimum
EPA is currently developing provisions requirements for owners/
for four additional financial mechanisms operators of MSWLF units. Readers
that owners/operators can use to satisfy should understand that the regulation of
the financial assurance requirements: (1) municipal landfills is, and will continue
a financial test for local government to be, primarily a state and tribal
owners/operators; (2) a financial test for function. States and tribes are therefore
corporate owners/operators; (3) a urged to revise their programs as soon
guarantee for local governments that as possible to incorporate these criteria,
wish to cover the costs of a municipal so that they can take advantage of the
landfill for an owner/operator; and (4) a flexibility that accompanies program
guarantee for corporations that wish to approval.
cover the costs of
a landfill for an Owners/operators are again reminded
owner/operator. that state and tribal programs may be
more stringent than the federal criteria.
They should work closely with state or

...tribal program officials and their regional EPA office to address questions about the requirements.

Areas of Flexibility for EPA-Approved States and Tribes

States and tribes with approved permitting programs have the opportunity to provide owners/
operators additional flexibility. Some examples of this flexibility are listed below.

Approved states or tribes may:

Allow siting of new and laterally Approve an alternative frequency for
expanding landfills in wetlands, providing detection monitoring.
certain conditions are met.
Modify list of assessment monitoring
Extend deadlines for closure of existing parameters (Appendix II constituents),
landfills that do not comply with the
Specify alternative frequencies for ,
unstable area, floodplain, and airport safety
assessment monitoring.
Establish Ground-water Protection
Standards for any constituent for which a
Operation: Maximum Contaminant Level has not been
● Allow use of alternative cover materials. established.
Grant temporary waivers of cover
Corrective action:
● Determine that cleanup of a particular
Design: Appendix II constituent is not necessary.
Approve landfill designs appropriate for Specify an alternative time period defining
site-specific conditions. the end of corrective action.

Ground-water monitoring: Closure and post-closure care:

Establish alternative schedules for existing Approve use of an alternative final cover.
landfills and lateral expansions of existing
landfills to comply with ground-water Grant extensions beyond specified
deadline for beginning closure activities.

Establish a site-appropriate boundary (or Grant extensions beyond specified

deadline for completing closure.
relevant point of compliance) for ground-
water monitoring (and corrective action Reduce or increase the 30-year post-closure
and design). care period.

● Allow use of a multi-unit ground-water

monitoring system, instead of separate
monitoring systems for each unit at a
Financial assurance:
Approve use of alternative financial
assurance mechanisms.
● Modify list of detection monitoring
parameters (Appendix I constituents).

For More Information

or more information about specific requirements for solid waste landfills in

F your area, contact your state solid waste agency. If you don’t know how to
reach them, call one of the resources listed below. The RCRA Hotline
maintains current lists of all state solid and hazardous waste management officials.
While these information centers are the best place to start collecting information, it
may still be useful to ask these contacts if some other source maybe able to give you
additional help.

RCRA Hotline
Provides information about RCRA regulations and policies, and takes document requests.

Hours: Monday-Fndayr 8:30 a.m. to 730 p.m., EST

Telephone: Toll-free — (800) 424-9346
TDD (hearing impaired) — (800) 553-7672
Washington metro area — (703) 412-9810
TDD — (703) 412-3323

EPA RCRA Information Center (Docket)

Maintains and tracks policy and guidance documents; provides nontechnical assistance and
written reference services; develops and disseminates public information materials.

Hours Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., EST

Telephone (202) 260-9327
Address: RCRA Information Center
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
401 M Street, SW. (OS-305)
Washington, DC 20460

Solid Waste Assistance Program

Collects and distributes information on all aspects of municipal solid waste management.

Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., EST

Telephone Toll-free — (800) 677-9424
Address: Solid Waste Assistance Program
P.O. Box 7219
Silver Spring, MD 20910

National Response Center

Accepts reports of oil and chemical spills or any other environmental incident.

Hours: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Telephone: Toll-free — (800) 424-2675
Washington metro area — (202) 426-2675

EPA Small Business Ombudsman

Helps small businesses comply with environmental laws and EPA regulations.

Hours Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., EST

Telephone Toll-free — (800) 368-5888
Washington metro area — (703) 305-5938

EPA Regional Contacts

U.S. EPA Region 1 U.S. EPA Region 4 U.S. EPA Region 7 U.S. EPA Region 10
Waste Management Waste Management Waste Management Hazardous Waste Division
Division (HEE-CAN 6) Division Division (HW-114)
JFK Federal Building (4WD-RCRA-FF) 726 Minnesota Avenue 1200 Sixth Avenue
Boston, MA 02203 345 Courtland Street, NE Kansas City, KS 66101 Seattle, WA 98101
(617) 573-9656 Atlanta, GA 30365 (913) 551-7666 (206) 553-2857
(404) 347-2091
U.S. EPA Region 2 U.S. EPA Region 8
Air & Waste Management U.S. EPA Region 5 Hazardous Waste
Division (2AWM-SW) Waste Management Management Branch
26 Federal Plaza Division (H-7J) (HWM-WM)
New York, NY 10278 77 West Jackson Blvd. 999 18th Street, Suite 500
(212) 264-0002 Chicago, IL 60604 Denver, CO 80202-2466
(312) 353-4686 (303) 293-1661
U.S. EPA Region 3
RCRA Solid Waste U.S. EPA Region 6 EPA Region 9
Program (3HW53) RCRA Programs Branch Hazardous Waste
841 Chestnut Street First Interstate Bank Management
Philadelphia, PA 19107 Tower Division (H-3-1)
(215) 597-7936 1445 Ross Avenue, 75 Hawthorne Street
Suite 1200 San Francisco, CA 94105
Dallas, TX 75202 (415) 744-2074
(214) 655-6655


The information in this document has been
funded wholly or in part by the United
States Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) under assistance agreement
#X820495-0l-0 to the Solid Waste
Association of North America. It has been
subjected to the Agency’s peer and
administrative review and has been
approved for publication as an EPA
document. Mention of trade names or
commercial products does not constitute
endorsement or recommendation for use.