California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Landfill Gas

Monitoring and Control Program Plan Enforcement Guidelines

This document provides guidance to enforcement agencies on when it would be necessary to cite violations of active landfills that are not in compliance with the new requirements for the installation of landfill gas monitoring probes. It is important that these new requirements are applied uniformly and fairly throughout the state. The following provides the background for these new regulations, as well as conditions and scenarios to be considered when enforcing these new and unique regulations.

Background

In 2004, the Board’s Permitting and Enforcement Committee directed staff to begin implementing a recommendation of a 2004 Board-commissioned landfill compliance study prepared by GeoSyntec Consultants, Inc. The study recommended that “the landfill gas-monitoring and control regulations for the active life of the landfill be changed so that they are as comprehensive as the regulations for gas monitoring and control during the post-closure care period.” A rulemaking package began in December 2005 to address this recommendation. After much stakeholder input, the Board revised its regulations governing landfill gas (LFG) monitoring and control for active disposal sites. California Code of Regulations, Title 27 (27 CCR), Sections 20921 required operators to submit an applicable gas monitoring and control system for Enforcement Agency (EA) approval of the system with Board concurrence, and implementation of the approved system by installing and monitoring of all necessary components of a LFG monitoring and control system compliant with 27 CCR 20917 et seq. by the date indicated in the regulations. For landfills that were permitted for greater than 20 tons per day, the operators were required to fully implement the programs described in the EA-approved and Board-concurred program plans by Sept. 21, 2008.

Based on discussions with public and private owners/operators and local enforcement agencies (LEAs) during the summer of 2008, the Board determined that there was a strong likelihood that a very large number of active disposal sites would be out of compliance with the new requirements on Sept. 21, 2008. A number of these disposal sites might have remained out of compliance for a year or more as some public operators reported that they would be required to go through a bidding/contract process before being able to implement plans. In response, the Board directed staff to revise the proposed regulations to amend compliance deadlines. After stakeholder input and Board deliberation, the new implementation date was extended to Oct. 18, 2009, for sites permitted to receive greater than 20 tons per day. The most recent regulations also allowed operators to submit a request for extension of the deadline for implementation to accommodate longer procurement processes and other situations beyond the operators’ control.

Enforcement Issues to be Considered

The implementation of this standard is a unique situation due to the following:

  1. Concerns about the adequacy of landfill gas monitoring at active sites has been expressed since 2004;
  2. Operators have had sufficient time to implement these regulations by Oct. 18, 2009, or request an approved extension;
  3. The regulation is an important public health, safety and environmental standard, and uncontrolled landfill gas is a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions; and
  4. Failure to implement this standard in a uniform manner may give economic advantages to operators.

These conditions should be taken into consideration along with the LEA’s Enforcement Program Plan (EPP) when determining the appropriate level enforcement action.

Possible Scenarios Requiring Enforcement

The Board determined it is in the best interest of the regulated community, public health, safety, and environment to expedite the Inventory process in order to gain uniformity on the state level. This guidance covers various scenarios. The guidance below describes scenarios, ordered by degree of severity, recommended citations, and referrals to Board for inclusion on the Inventory of Facilities Violating State Minimum Standards*.

Scenario 1: Landfills permitted to accept >20 tons/day and do not have an Approved Plan.

Enforcement Action:

  • LEA/EA issues a violation on the inspection report starting in October/November 2009 and continues to cite the violation until a Plan is approved and implemented or an extension is granted.
  • After the second violation the LEA/EA notifies* the Board of the two consecutive violations in order to start (expedite) the Inventory Process**.
  • The LEA will follow its Enforcement Program Plan and treat the violation as one that the operator has been repeatedly notified and has not made good faith effort to comply with the standards.
  • It is recommended that enforcement actions include milestones, including submittal of an approvable plan and implementation of that plan, and consider the operator's ability to comply as well as their good faith effort or lack thereof.

Scenario 2: Landfills permitted to accept >20 tons/day and do have an Approved Plan, but have not installed the probes/implemented the Plan and do not have an approved extension.

Enforcement Action:

  • LEA/EA issues a violation on the inspection report starting in October/November 2009 and continues to cite the violation until the Plan is implemented or an extension is granted.
  • After the second violation the LEA/EA notifies* the Board of the two consecutive violations in order to start (expedite) the Inventory Process**.
  • The LEA will follow its Enforcement Program Plan and treat the infraction as one that the operator has been repeatedly notified.
  • It is recommended that enforcement actions include milestones and penalties associated with each milestone and consider the operator's ability to comply as well as their good faith effort or lack thereof.

Scenario 3: Landfills permitted to accept >20 tons/day and do have an Approved Plan, but have not installed the probes/implemented the Plan and have submitted a request for an extension that is still pending.

Enforcement Action:

  • LEA/EA issues a violation on the inspection report starting in October/November 2009 and continues to cite the violation until the Plan is implemented or an extension is granted.
  • After the second violation, LEA/EA notifies* the Board of the two consecutive violations in order to start (expedite) the Inventory Process**.
  • If an Enforcement Actions is necessary include milestones and penalties associated with each milestone and consider the operator's ability to comply as well as their good faith effort or lack thereof.

Scenario 4: Landfills permitted to accept >20 tons/day and do have an Approved Plan and an approved extension, but have not installed the probes/implemented the Plan and have missed the due date in the approved extension.

Enforcement Action: If the operator has made good faith effort, follow Scenario 2. However if the operator has not made a good faith effort, follow Scenario 1. Note: If the extension request includes milestones, the LEA/EA should monitor completion of the milestones and note on the inspection whether or not the operator is meeting the milestones.

Scenario 5: Landfills permitted to accept >20 tons/day, and do have an Approved Plan and have installed the probes/implemented the Plan and have not submitted the as-built drawings, including all the information described in 27 CCR 20925(d)(2).

Enforcement Action: LEA/EA includes a note on the inspection report after the probes have been installed requesting the operator to submit the as-built information to the LEA and Board staff. If 60 days after the request, the operator has not submitted the as-builts, then LEA/EA will cite an area of concern and then a violation the subsequent month (four months after the first note). If the operator has already had sufficient time since probes were installed to submit as-builts and the LEA or Board has requested they be provided in previous correspondence (or on an inspection report), an area of concern should be given and then escalated to a violation in the next month.

Summary of Five Scenarios Presented in Enforcement Guidance
Scenario Approved Plan Implemented Plan Submitted Extension Request Approved Extension Submitted As-build Final Report Citations After October 18, 2009
1 No No No No N/A Violations
2 Yes No No No N/A Violations
3 Yes No Yes No (pending) N/A Violations
4 Yes No Missed Deadline No N/A Violations
5 Yes Yes N/A N/A No Request the as-built drawings and note as AOC after 60 days then violation after four months

Notes:

*Notification to the Board means sending inspection results either by e-mail, telephone, or by submittal of electronic inspection report (SWIS DIP) within one week of the violation being witnessed. Notification should be given to the jurisdictions point of contact.

**What is the Inventory (Inventory of Facilities Violating State Minimum Standards)? The Inventory is a list of solid waste facilities in the State of California that are violating the state minimum standards for solid waste handling and disposal. State minimum standards regulate the design and operation of solid waste facilities in order to protect public health and safety and the environment.

How does a facility get placed on the Inventory? Three steps must be taken as part of due process in placing a facility on the Inventory.

Step One: An LEA documents, in two consecutive monthly inspection reports, violations of one or more standards identified as "state minimum standards" for solid waste handling and disposal in Title 14 or Title 27, California Code of Regulations (14 CCR or 27 CCR).

Step Two: When Board staff note at least one violation for two consecutive months, a letter is sent to the operator of the facility notifying them of the Board's intent to place the facility in the Inventory if the violations are not corrected within 90 days of receipt of the notice. These letters are referred to as "notice of intent" or NOI.

Step Three: On or after the 90th day subsequent to the operator's receipt of the NOI, if one or more of the violations noticed have not been corrected as documented in an inspection report submitted by the LEA, then Board staff will send another letter to the operator, telling them that their facility has been placed on the inventory. Letters telling an operator that a facility is on the Inventory are referred to as "inclusion letters." Board staff may consult with the LEA verbally before sending out either an NOI or an inclusion letter to make sure that each is based on accurate and up-to-date information.

How does this LFG enforcement process expedite the Inventory process? In most cases, the LEA’s inspection reports are sent through the U.S. mail to the Board approximately 30 days after the date of the inspections. Then they are scanned into the SWIS database and then reviewed by staff and submitted into the database. On a monthly basis, staff generates a report for consecutive violations to see if any facilities should be sent an NOI (see above). This process can take an additional 60 days or more, allowing the facility to be in violation four consecutive months before a NOI letter is sent, starting the Inventory process. By notifying the Board through the process described above, this will allow the NOI to be sent after the second violation as the law allows and speed up the current process.

Landfill Gas Monitoring Home Page

Last updated: November 24, 2009
Landfill Gas, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/SWFacilities/Landfills/Gas/
Gino Yekta: Gino.Yekta@calrecycle.ca.gov (916) 341-6354