Niagara Falls landfill must start gas control system to cut emissions

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landfill stock image
The measure comes as part of a new settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), after Allied Waste Niagara Falls Landfill LLC (Allied) was fined $671,000 in January for violating the federal Clean Air Act. Photo Credit: rob245, stock.adobe.com

A landfill in Niagara Falls, New York, has agreed to introduce a gas collection and control system to reduce the amount of compounds and chemicals emitted into the air, with a particular focus on methane.

The measure comes as part of a new settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), after Allied Waste Niagara Falls Landfill LLC (Allied) was fined $671,000 in January for violating the federal Clean Air Act. 

The mandated gas collection and control system will eliminate an estimated 86,000 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent methane emissions, according to the EPA. It will also prevent an estimated 32 metric tonnes of non-methane landfill gas emissions per year.

“Methane is a climate super pollutant that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and landfills are the third largest sources of methane emissions in the United States,” announced EPA Assistant Administrator, David Uhlmann, from the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

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The EPA notes that pollutants form when organic waste in the landfill decomposes and creates landfill gas. It estimates that methane accounts for 12% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Earlier this month, the agency proposed a fee for large emitters of waste methane from the oil and gas sector that exceed set emissions intensity levels.

Methane emissions from landfills has become a priority under the EPA’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative dedicated to mitigating climate change. 

Under the EPA settlement, Allied is also required to cap vents on the parts of the landfill that have been inactive, as well as monitor its emissions and gas wells. 

According to a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the EPA, the Niagara Falls landfill failed to install and operate a gas collection and control system on the active and inactive cells of the landfill in a timely manner, which caused excess landfill gas emissions to be released to the atmosphere. Local residents have filed complaints for years about odours emanating from the site.

The Department of Justice also noted that Allied had failed to obtain federal and state air permits as required by law. The landfill must now apply for updated state permits, including a Title V major source permit, and keep adequate records of its compliance activities. 

In November 2023, Ontario amended O. Reg. 222/07 under the Environmental Protection Act to create the ability to fine landfills when compliance concerns arise.

Related Professional Development Course

Attend “Air Quality, Climate Change, and Decarbonization” on April 24th at the CANECT 2024 Environmental Compliance and Due Diligence Training Event in Vaughan, Ontario. Attendees will learn about air quality regulation and reporting, including odour and greenhouse gas emissions. Visit www.canect.net for more information.

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