LANDFILL CLOSURE GUIDANCE

Solid Waste Management Program fact sheet
05/2014
Division of Environmental Quality Director: Leanne Tippett Mosby
PUB187

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Solid Waste Management Program (SWMP) has developed this technical bulletin to provide assistance to owners of sanitary, demolition, and utility waste landfills and their consultants in obtaining closure approval from the department. This bulletin is intended to address closure of landfills under the current Missouri Solid Waste Management law and rules.

The closure requirements for older facilities vary widely, depending on the regulations applicable to closure of the specific facility.  The department asks that owners of older facilities contact the SWMP prior to beginning closure. Contact information is provided at the end of this technical bulletin.

All owners or operators applying for closure approval must have a department approved closure/post-closure plan. For further information regarding the preparation of closure/post-closure plans, see SWMP’s technical bulletin titled Guidance For Preparing Solid Waste Disposal Area Closure and Post-Closure Plans or contact the SWMP for assistance. 

Regulatory Requirements
Most of the specific regulatory requirements for closure can be found in the Missouri Solid Waste Management Regulations. 

Closure Timelines
The regulatory timeframes for landfill closure can be summarized as follows:

Time extensions may be granted by the SWMP. To request an extension the owner or operator must submit a written request to the SWMP within at least 30 days of the closure deadline and include a proposed schedule for completing closure. Extensions will be granted on a case-by-case basis, and only when the owner or operator has made a considerable effort to close the landfill.

Final Closure Guidance
As each phase of the landfill is completed, final cover must be applied. A good final cover will help minimize surface water infiltration and subsequent leachate production, and landfill gas production for sanitary and demolition landfills. The following are descriptions of the various components of a final cover system, listed from the bottom up in all cases:

Sanitary and Demolition Landfills Without Composite Liners

Sanitary and Demolition Landfills With Composite Liners 

Utility Waste Landfills

Note: All borrow area soil used for cover construction must be tested to ensure the soil meets the approved standards per the applicable regulations. 

Construction and Grading
The following concepts apply to all final cover construction:

Vegetation
Once the cover has been applied, the top surface of the landfill must be vegetated (within 180 days).  Considerations for establishing a good stand of vegetation should include:

In the past, the department has not encouraged the establishment of warm season native grasses on landfills because most types of native grasses require periodic burning, as opposed to mowing, to control invasive species and maintain a healthy stand of grass.  Maintenance burning of final cover vegetation on landfills is not allowed.  However, warm season native grasses may be approved as final cover vegetation if the landfill owner can provide adequate maintenance procedures.

Assistance with establishing vegetation may be obtained from the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).  The NRCS has many available publications which may prove useful, particularly the Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) for the county in which the landfill is located.  For example, Section IV of each FOTG contains useful information on critical area planting (Code 342) and establishing grassed waterways (Code 412).  The FOTG for the county where your landfill is located is available by visiting http://efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/efotg_locator.aspx. Contact information for the NRCS office in your area is available at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app 

The department must perform a final closure inspection following construction of the final cover system to determine whether the vegetation is adequate to control erosion.  The department considers a good stand of healthy vegetation to be one that provides dense vegetative cover over the majority of the landfill surface.  A landfill with a large area, or a large percentage of the overall surface area, that is either completely devoid of vegetation or has very sparse vegetation, is not adequately vegetated.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to establish an exact, measurable standard.  However, if the deficiencies in the final cover vegetation are no more severe than what can be expected during normal post-closure maintenance, it is generally acceptable as final cover.

Quality Assurance/Quality Control
When constructing the final cover the approved Quality Assurance/ Quality Control (QA/QC) plan must be followed to ensure the cover system is properly constructed.  Proper QA/QC procedures include:

The procedures specified in the approved QA/QC plan will be much more detailed that what is described above.  This is intended only to address the major aspects of QA/QC.

Submittals for Closure Approval
Before closure can be approved, three copies of the following documentation must be submitted. 

A Note Concerning Survey Plats
The federal solid waste regulations do not include a requirement for landfill owners to submit survey plats upon closure.  Those regulations [40 CFR 258.60(i)(1) and (2) ] only require that the owner record a notation on the landfill property deed, or some other instrument that is normally examined during title search.  The notation must in perpetuity notify any potential purchaser of the property that:

Missouri’s regulations require a survey plat showing the detailed property description and the general location of any waste material, and indicating the general type and depth of wastes on the property.  Per the regulations, the plat must also show the location of any leachate control, gas control and monitoring, and/or groundwater monitoring systems at the site that must be maintained during the post-closure period, and indicate the length of time the systems must be maintained.  These regulatory requirements go a bit further than the federal requirements.  In fact, the easement required under Missouri regulations, as mentioned above, satisfies the minimum federal requirement.  Also, the Missouri Solid Waste Management Law [section 260.213 RSMo ] prohibits any person from selling, conveying, or transferring title to any property that contains a permitted or unpermitted solid waste disposal site without disclosing to the buyer early in the negotiation process the existence and location of the site.  These combined requirements far exceed the minimum federal standards for closure documentation.

To reiterate, the purpose of the survey plat is to record the existence of the landfill in the chain of title to alert any potential purchaser of the property.  It is not necessarily intended to make the potential purchaser aware of particular design details (e.g., the contours of the landfill footprint, the layout of the gas collection system, or the location of the groundwater monitoring wells).  Those details are available in the department’s files.  In fact, those files should be the source of detailed information for any potential purchaser, not the survey plat.

In addition, when a land surveyor certifies that a survey meets the Minimum Standards for Property Boundary Survey, he or she is certifying a property boundary survey, not necessarily the accuracy of the locations of the various environmental control and monitoring systems.  It is also redundant to include this type of information on the survey plat when it is available on the engineering (as-built) drawings.  As such, the SWMP has on occasion allowed owners to submit a separate engineering drawing to be recorded in the chain of title along with the survey plat, showing the location and layout of the environmental control and monitoring systems that are in place at the landfill.  In fact, while either approach is acceptable, the SWMP prefers that landfill owners take the latter approach rather than cluttering a survey plat with too much information.  If a survey plat and an engineering drawing are submitted as part of the closure documentation, both documents must be submitted to the SWMP for review along with the other closure documentation, prior to being recorded. 

A Note Concerning Easements
For landfill permitted after Jan. 1, 1987, the easement was required to be executed following issuance of the permit, but prior to beginning waste disposal operations, so it should have been taken care of prior to closure.  If your landfill was permitted prior to Janu. 1, 1987 and no easement has been executed with the department, you should contact the SWMP and discuss the matter.  The SWMP will require you to begin the process of developing the easement so it may be executed as soon as possible. 

Note: Filing of Survey Plat:

  1. Within 30 days of department approval of the plat, the owner or operator shall file the plat with the county recorder of deeds.
  2. Two copies of the recorded plat shall be submitted to the department within 30 days of the filing.
  3. Owners or operators of solid waste disposal areas permitted prior to Jan. 1, 1987 and which close after Jan. 1, 1989 as part of closure must
    1. Execute an easement with the department or its agents to enter the site to monitor, maintain, or take remedial action during the 30 year post-closure period.
    2. Submit evidence to the department that a notice and covenant running with land has been filed with the county recorder of deeds. The notice and covenant shall specify the following:
      1. The property has been permitted as a sanitary landfill.
      2. That use of the land which interferes with the closure/post-closure plan is prohibited.
  4. SWMP has created a standard form which must be submitted upon completion of closure. This form should be completed concurrently with the survey plat.

Final Closure Approval/Denial
Once the final closure documentation described above has been submitted, the SWMP will review the certification report, survey plat, and easement, and determine whether the final closure documentation is approvable.  The SWMP will also conduct a final closure inspection to verify that vegetation has been adequately established and the final cover is free of excessive erosion.  Based on its review of the final closure documentation and inspection of the landfill, the SWMP will either approve or deny the request for final closure. If final closure is approved, the owner will be notified in writing and the SWMP will initiate release of the closure financial assurance.

If final closure is denied, the owner will be notified in writing and the deficiencies will be explained.  A reasonable timeframe for correcting the deficiencies and demonstrating compliance will be given to the landfill owner.

In some situations, the SWMP may approve the survey plat, the engineering drawing if one is submitted, the easement, and/or the engineering certification report in advance of issuing final closure approval.  The SWMP might also provide comments on any or all of the documents, which will need to be addressed before the SWMP can approve them.  The point is that the review and approval of these documents sometimes run separate courses.  Approval of final closure will only be issued after the SWMP approves all of the documentation and finds the landfill to be in satisfactory condition upon inspection.

Recording of Survey Plat and Easement
Following the SWMP’s review and approval of the survey plat (and engineering drawing if one is submitted), the easement, notice, and covenant running with the land, and the affidavit, the owner will be required to file the documents with the Recorder of Deeds in the county where the landfill is located. The regulations require that the plat be recorded within 30 days of the SWMP’s approval of the document, so this is the general timeframe we will follow for recording of the documents.  Once the documents have been recorded, one notarized original and one notarized copy of each recorded document, showing the recorder’s seal or stamp, and the book and page number, must be submitted to the SWMP for our records.

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