NSWMA Issues White Paper on Modern Landfills

Date: March 21, 2006

Source: Press Release

The National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) today announced that its white paper, "Modern Landfills: A Far Cry from the Past," is now available.

"The paper was prepared to explain the history behind the development of modern landfills and provides details on how today's landfills are designed, operated, and regulated to protect human health and the environment" said Bruce Parker, President and CEO, NSWMA. "In the past, older landfills either didn't collect methane gas generated by the decomposition of the garbage or collected the methane and burned without energy recovery. Today's highly engineered landfills can produce "green energy" which conserves fossil fuels and reduces greenhouse gas emissions."

With the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) amendments in 1984, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency promulgated regulations requiring that landfills include location restrictions, operational standards, design requirements, groundwater protections, closure and post-closure care, and financial assurance for closure and post-closure care.

"Modern landfills are specifically designed to protect human health and the environment by controlling water and air emissions," said Ed Repa, NSWMA's Director, Environmental Programs and a landfill expert. "Liners and leachate collection systems provide liquid containment, while gas collection systems capture and destroy air emissions."

The white paper includes a detailed discussion of landfill gas and leachate collection systems. As waste degrades the organic portion of the waste turns into methane (a primary constituent of natural gas) and carbon dioxide. Larger, modern landfills collect methane and direct it to central locations for processing and treatment where it is either destroyed by flaring or used as an energy source to produce electricity. Leachate systems prevent groundwater contamination. Constructed to current standards, these systems typically have a liquid removal efficiency of 99 to 100 percent and frequently exceed 99.99 percent.

A copy of the paper is available on NSWMA's Internet site at www.nswma.org or by contacting the NSWMA Public Affairs Department at 800-424-2869 or alicej@envasns.org.

Bruce Parker

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