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Municipal Landfill

INTRODUCTION

This Industry Profile Fact Sheet is presented by the EPA Region 3 to assist state, local, and municipal agencies, and private groups in the initial planning and evaluation of sites being considered for remediation, redevelopment or reuse. It is intended to provide a general description of site conditions and contaminants which may be encountered at specific industrial facilities. This fact sheet is presented for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as a federal policy or directive.

INDUSTRY, PROCESS, OR SITE DESCRIPTION

Landfilling of solid waste has been practiced since very early times, when refuse was deposited in an open dump and allowed to decompose naturally. In most states today, a municipal landfill is restricted primarily to house hold garbage, office waste, rubble and debris from the construction industry, and vegetation from land clearing, lawn and leaf waste, etc. Modern municipal landfills should not be used to dispose of chemical or industrial wastes. Depending on when a landfill was constructed and operated, there may be engineering controls installed, such as liners, leachate collection/treatment, monitoring wells, etc.

CHARACTERISTIC RAW MATERIALS

Because of unregulated use or illegal dumping practices, landfills in use prior to 1970 may contain volatile organic compounds, pesticide/PCBs, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), cyanides, heavy metals, and other contamination. Even strictly domestic or household waste can contain small quantities of oil and grease, paint, corrosives, solvents and other miscellaneous consumer chemicals.

WASTE STREAMS AND POTENTIALLY AFFECTED ENVIRONMENTAL MEDIA

During the early stage of waste decomposition in a landfill the degradation process is essentially anaerobic, forming carbon dioxide and finally methane gas. Methane, in proper proportion with air, forms an explosive combination. Other generated gas, such as hydrogen sulfide, is toxic and lethal. Leachate produced by water moving through deposited refuse represents a potential hazard to soils as well as surface or groundwater.

SAMPLING STRATEGIES

Any raw material encountered on site should be visually identified and confirmed using immuno-assay, qualitative indicators, or wet chemistry field screening techniques. Obvious contaminated areas such as surface seeps should be characterized by collecting several representative samples for laboratory analysis. Surface water and soil samples should be collected from suspected areas, including erosion ditches. It should be noted that landfills may contain corrosive and poisonous gas which present a threat to the assessment personnel.

SUGGESTED ANALYTICAL PARAMETERS

Heavy Metals Analysis:

Priority Pollutant Organics Analysis (volatile, semivolatile and pesticide/PCBs)

Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH) Analysis

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Brownfields & Land Revitalization


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