Landfill Gas O&M: Compliance with Downstream Benefits

November 4, 2021
CEC’s Landfill Gas Operations & Maintenance team has expanded across the country as the regulatory environment continues to evolve.

A series of environmental laws and statutes passed decades ago continue to rear their heads among landfill owners and operators. All these years later, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to create and adjust regulations that put those laws into practice, focusing strictly on how to keep waste from getting into the air, water, and soil.

Those in the solid waste business soon realized that if their landfill reached a new source performance standard, they would need to install a landfill gas collection system or risk fines from the EPA over fugitive emissions — leaks, or other irregular releases of gas or vapors — that cause compliance issues and potentially pose public hazards.

With these EPA regulations in place, the landfill gas system design, construction, and operations and maintenance job fields were born.

CEC’s O&M Team

Although the implementation of landfill gas systems is not new, the recognition of just how much time and energy needs to be spent in ensuring their proper operation and maintenance continues to be at the forefront of owners’ and operators’ minds.

CEC recently broke out a team dedicated solely to landfill gas operations & maintenance, with experts nationwide ensuring the proper implementation and continued use of these systems during the landfill’s life cycle.

“Creating this team greatly expanded our market share and position in the landfill gas O&M space,” says Harold Barber, office lead for CEC Houston and CEC’s landfill gas O&M team. “When we created this team, it made us a player from coast to coast. It’s quite beneficial to our clients because there are not many companies that do this for a living.”

CEC’s professionals throughout offices in Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, and Houston provide services for non-routine landfill gas management, contaminated liquid management and extraction, pumping system maintenance, and other services that enable facilities to maintain normal disposal operations while remaining in environmental compliance.

The industry has seen a shift over time as regulations became more stringent and owners and operators became more diligent in adhering to them, explains Greg Komperda, CEC’s landfill gas O&M expert in Chicago.

“The industry has changed for the better,” says Greg, who has more than 19 years of experience working in landfill gas. “Nowadays, our work is geared more toward preventing issues, rather than reacting to them. We are now better suited to anticipate changes in landfills and plan to expand our systems accordingly.”

Reuse, post-closure work, and data

Seamless operations of these systems is vital not only for landfill owners and operators, but also for energy suppliers who might use the collected gas for power supply.
Having a team dedicated to ensuring the proper operation and maintenance of these systems opens up opportunities with landfill gas energy developers who have their own wells and their own needs at these sites.

Among those needs is making sure a well field is being tuned properly, which helps the energy developers meet their needs to sell electricity.

“Without us physically at the site and making sure it’s operating and being maintained, they can’t make the money they need for a payback, and they won’t qualify for the environmental credit that goes along with it,” Harold says. “Our services go downstream.”

When a landfill closes, the work of CEC’s landfill gas O&M team is not complete — not by a long shot.

The landfill might not be accepting new waste, but the work to ensure it stays within compliance and regulations can continue for decades as the waste mass continues to emit gas.
That’s why it’s critical for landfill gas systems to be consistently monitored and for the experts who can make adjustments and ensure proper operation to be readily available, both for those landfill owners and operators and for the companies who rely on the landfill gas for renewable energy.

“Post-closure care from a landfill gas perspective becomes especially important in high-population areas, where the detection of odors might be more likely,” Greg says. “Clients rely on us to do everything we can to make that landfill invisible to the public.”

CEC has the latest technology and instrumentation to collect data from the well fields and present it to clients in an easy-to-comprehend way. It’s a well-rounded system where CEC’s professionals are constantly crunching numbers to ensure owners and operators are hitting their marks and effectively mitigating their gas concerns.

“The data tells the tale for the well field,” Harold says. “From that data, you can determine gas quality, whether you can increase the vacuum in the well field at certain points, or make sure there isn’t a subsurface oxidation event occurring. The last thing anyone wants is a regulator who’s identified a problem knocking on the door. That’s why our team is so vital.”

About the Author

CEC Staff

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. (CEC) provides comprehensive market-oriented consulting services to advance client strategic business objectives. CEC is recognized for delivering innovative design solutions and integrated expertise in air quality, civil engineering, ecological sciences, environmental engineering and sciences, manufacturing infrastructure services, survey/geospatial, waste management, and water resources.

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