AIE: Notes from Regional Waste Management Planning Offices (RWMPOs) meetings with EPA Licensing Section re Closed Landfills CoAs

Notes:

Definition

Definition of a “closed landfill” i.e. a landfill site operated by a local authority for the recovery or disposal of waste without a waste licence on any date between 15th July 1977 and 27th March 1997.

EDEN System

The closed landfills details are not currently on the EDEN system, and are unlikely to be included in the medium term

Financial provision condition
The more recently issued CoAs do not include the requirement for a dedicated financial provision instrument to be put in place. With respect to older CoAs that do contain a condition around financial provision, the OEE will not be looking for a financial provision instrument to be put in place.

Location and use of Groundwater wells
In order to assess the impact of the closed landfill, groundwater wells need to be designed and located appropriately and in accordance with the guidance in the EPA Landfill Monitoring Manual. For example, where a closed landfill is located in a disused sand & gravel quarry, the sand and gravel overburden deposits are likely to be the aquifer at greatest risk of contamination, and monitoring groundwater wells should generally be installed to a depth which samples the overburden, not the underlying bedrock. Site specific circumstances may necessitate wells to sample other aquifers, but the environmental risk assessment should identify the principal receptors. At minimum, there must be three groundwater boreholes, one up-gradient and two down-gradient. As groundwater flows don’t always match ground levels this needs to be taken into account when determining the hydraulic gradient and siting boreholes. The hydraulic gradient can only be properly established by monitoring piezometric levels in established boreholes. The location of any required additional wells need to be agreed with the OEE, prior to installation

Woodland development on closed landfills
OEE are generally in favour of woodland development on closed landfills provide it does not affect the risk assessments findings & recommendations. The principal consideration is whether any development (e.g. woodland, solar farm, built infrastructure) or its associated activities (e.g. digging, drainage, use of heavy equipment) is likely to damage the capping system on a closed landfill, if having a low permeability cap is a key aspect of the remediation strategy.

OEE recommend:
– Looking at the woodland option at as early stage as possible, preferably at the CoA application stage
– Where CoA is already granted any proposal will have to look at the site risk assessment
– Targeting closed landfills where there is a low risk in terms of leachate (i.e. cap unlikely to be required)
– Taking into consideration – types of trees, maintenance required and its impact, public access, risk of fires etc.

OEE also look favourably on proposed use of closed landfill sites for solar farms. Wind turbines are unlikely to be suitable.

Lands held in private ownership
Undertaking remediation works on private property is potentially a sensitive issue, and LAs may face difficulties in agreeing the specific location or details of remediation works with the landowner. To avoid any issues after a CoA has issued, OEE suggested that engagement between the LA and the landowner should take place as soon as possible, and ideally before the CoA issues. OEE have recommended to their Licensing Section that the LA should clarify the relationship with private landowners as part of the CoA application process. The LA should provide evidence that the landowner is aware of and agreeable to the proposed remediation works (no need to provide details of the landowner).

Closed landfill planning requirements & impact on remediation
RWMPOs provided details of the closed landfill planning requirements i.e. need to obtain AA screening and/or planning consent from ABP prior to commencing remediation works. The impacts on the commencement of remediation works were highlighted. RWMPOs agreed to keep OEE updated regarding further developments in relation to the issue.

Communications

The OEE suggested that a generic document/leaflet could be prepared for circulation to adjacent proprieties and/or landowners. The document/leaflet should outline that the site exists, the risk assessments undertaken, authorisation obtained, proposed remediation works and where further information can be obtained. RWMPOs will work with the OEE on suggested wording for document/leaflet

Annual reports (AR)
OEE highlighted that Historic Landfill CoAs do not require the submission of an Annual Environmental Report, which Local Authorities may be familiar with from holding an EPA waste licence. Instead, CoAs require the submission of an annual update, and a condition in the Cert lists specific information that should be provided. Essentially the AR should give a summary of the monitoring data gathered during the relevant period (with an interpretation), the findings of a visual assessment, and a status update on remediation works. Where remediation works have not been completed yet, the annual update should provide an indicative timeframe for the next stage in progressing the works. The annual report should be submitted to the EPA by email to historiclandfills@epa.ie

EPA Audits

OEE are intending to commence on-site audits of authorised closed landfills. LAs will be notified prior to any inspections.

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