Municipal Solid Waste Landfills

Landfills continue to be an important component of the solid waste management program in Ohio.

Municipal solid waste is a type of solid waste generated from community, commercial and agricultural operations. This includes wastes from households, offices, stores and other non-manufacturing activities.

Municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills can accept municipal solid waste as well as all other solid waste and exempt wastes (e.g. spent nontoxic foundry sand, nontoxic fly ash and bottom ash, and construction and demolition debris).

MSW landfills cannot accept hazardous waste, regulated PCB wastes, bulk liquids or wastes containing free liquids, untreated infectious waste from a large generator, scrap tires or yard waste.

Modern MSW landfills are well-engineered facilities that are located, designed, operated, and monitored to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.  MSW landfills are required to meet design, siting, operating, closure and post closure requirements.  There are design standards for the composite liner system (consisting of re-compacted soil overlain by a flexible membrane liner), a leachate management system (designed to limit the level of leachate on the liner system to one foot), a multilayer cap system and surface water management.  To accommodate advances in technology, the rules allow alternative materials and thicknesses. Every 10 years the facility undergoes a review of the landfill design to demonstrate it is consistent with current design standards.

Siting criteria provide for protection of ground water and drinking water wells, as well as setbacks from parks, surface waters, property lines, and domiciles.  Additionally, there are restrictions associated with airports, flood plains, earthquakes and unstable areas.

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Operating requirements include keeping records of waste loads accepted and rejected; activities at the working face, including the application of daily and intermediate cover; proper management of surface water and leachate; and prevention of nuisances or health hazards (e.g. managing noise, dust, odors, insects, and rodents).  The operator is also required to monitor the ground water for potential contamination and to monitor for explosive gas migration.

After an MSW landfill is closed, the facility is maintained and monitored for a minimum of 30 years.  Financial assurance is required.  If at any time someone desires to disturb the landfill (e.g. build a road, install utility lines, put in ball fields), the director must first give his authorization to do so.

To construct and operate an MSW landfill, various authorizations are required. From the solid waste program, the owner or operator must obtain a permit to install (PTI), issued by Ohio EPA to construct the landfill. Every year, the owner or operator must obtain a license issued by the licensing authority (either the health department or Ohio EPA).  After a permit is issued, if the owner or operator desires to modify or alter the facility, they must obtain authorization from the director. A modification requires a permit.  An alteration requires concurrence from the agency. The law allows an owner or operator to request a variance or exemption from a rule requirement.  Often these requests are submitted with the application for a permit.  There are fees for permits, licenses, and variances but not for alterations or exemptions. Obtaining a permit is a very complex and lengthy process to resolve hydrogeologic issues (for siting and ground water monitoring) and design considerations.  There are opportunities for public participation.

Regulation of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) landfills is under Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Chapter 3745-27 , Rules 01 to 20. Licensing requirements are addressed under OAC 3745-37.  These rules are adopted pursuant to Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Chapter 3734.  On the federal level, municipal solid waste is regulated pursuant to Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act under 40 CFR Part 258.