Residual Solid Waste Landfills

RSW landfills can accept solid wastes from 7 specific industrial categories. The waste streams from these industries are typically generated in large quantities and are generally homogeneous and of low toxicity. The 7 specific industries included in the residual solid waste regulatory program are:

  • coal burning operations;
  • foundry operations;
  • pulp and paper making operations;
  • steel-making operations;
  • gypsum processing plant operations;
  • lime processing operations; and
  • Portland cement operations.

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The unique feature of the residual solid waste program is that there are 4 classes of landfills based on the levels of contaminants in the leachate.  The most stringent design, Class I, is equivalent to an industrial solid waste landfill.  Each class of landfill can accept only those wastes that do not exceed contaminant limits for that class (e.g. a Class II residual waste landfill can accept waste that can also go to a Class III or Class IV residual waste landfill).  A residual solid waste landfill can accept regulated asbestos containing materials if a NESHAP air permit has been granted.

All RSW landfills must meet the same siting criteria (with one exception). These provide for protection of ground water and drinking water wells, as well as setbacks from parks, surface waters, property lines, and domiciles. 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, and odors).  Ground water monitoring is required for all classes except the least stringent (Class IV). After an RSW landfill is closed, the facility is maintained and monitored for a minimum time based on the class of the landfill (5 years to 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.

The isolation distance between the bottom of the liner and the uppermost aquifer system, the design of the composite liner system (consisting of recompacted soil overlain by a flexible membrane liner), and the post closure care period, vary between the classes. Leachate collection is required at all classes except for Class IV.  A two layer cap system is required for all classes, however the standards for the Class IV cap are reduced.   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.

To construct and operate an ISW or RSW 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.