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Delaware Solid Waste Authority Settles Clean Air Act Violations at Wilmington Landfill

Release Date: 11/22/2004
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith 2(215) 814-5543

Contact: Bonnie Smith (215) 814-5543

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA) has settled alleged Clean Air Act violations at the Cherry Island Landfill, a DSWA landfill in Wilmington, Del.

In a consent agreement, DSWA has agreed to pay a $35,805 penalty to resolve a March 1, 2004 EPA complaint alleging violations of federal regulations designed to reduce air pollution from municipal solid waste landfills. EPA worked with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) in investigating these violations, and DNREC has previously ordered DSWA to comply with applicable federal and state air pollution control regulations at the landfill.

The decomposition of solid waste at landfills produces harmful air emissions, including methane gas, which contributes to global climate change and may create fire and explosion hazards; volatile organic compounds, which contribute to smog; and other hazardous air pollutants. Under EPA regulations, large municipal solid waste landfills that were constructed or modified after May 1991 must have landfill gas collection and treatment systems. With these systems, methane gas from landfills may be captured, converted, and used as an energy source. For more information about landfill gas, its regulation and re-use, visit EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/lmop/index.htm and http://www.epa.gov/lmop/products/factsheet.htm

In November and December, 2003, EPA and DNREC officials inspected the Cherry Island Landfill, located at 12th Street and Hay Road in Wilmington. One of three DSWA-operated landfills in Delaware, this 240-acre facility is designed to hold 10.42 million tons of solid waste, including municipal and residential solid waste, construction and demolition debris, tires, household yard waste and appliances.

EPA estimates that waste decomposition at the landfill annually produces more than 100 tons of methane gas, 25 tons of nitrogen oxide, and more than 50 tons of non-methane organic compounds. Cereza Energy Inc. has a lease agreement with DSWA to operate a collection system for landfill gas, which Cereza processes and sells to Conectiv’s Edgemoor plant for energy production.

On November 12 and 20, 2003, EPA and DNREC inspectors monitored landfill gas concentrations at sample wells and other locations throughout the landfill, documenting 32 points where surface concentrations of methane gas exceeded the Clean Air Act limit of 500 parts per million (ppm). At a followup visit on December 2, 2003, EPA and DNREC inspectors found that the landfill failed to take required corrective actions at three previously monitored locations, which still exceeded the 500 ppm methane threshold.

As part of the settlement, the Delaware Solid Waste Authority neither admitted nor denied liability for the cited violations.

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