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Frequent Questions about Landfills

Are owners and operators of municipal solid waste landfills (MSWLF) restricted from accepting liquid waste for disposal?

The only types of bulk or non-containerized waste an owner or operator of a MSWLF may accept for disposal are household waste (excluding septic waste), properly recirculated leachate, or gas condensate derived from the MSWLF (Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR) section 258.28). Furthermore, the recirculation of leachate or gas condensate in MSWLFs is limited to units equipped with composite liners and leachate collection systems (40 CFR section 258.28(a)(2)). Containers holding liquid waste may not be placed in a MSWLF unit unless the container is a small container similar in size to that normally found in household waste, the container is designed to hold liquids for use other than storage, or the waste is a household waste (40 CFR section 258.28(b)). Liquid waste is any waste material that is determined to contain “free liquids” as defined by Method 9095 (Paint Filter Liquids Test), as described in Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Wastes, Physical/Chemical Methods (SW-846). Gas condensate means the liquid generated as a result of gas recovery processe(es) at the MSWLF unit (40 CFR section 258.28(c)).

 The document entitled Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Wastes, Physical/Chemical Methods (SW-846) is available here.

Additional guidance on the liquids restrictions, gas condensate and leachate recirculation is available in the following documents:

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Are there any notification requirements for sending a waste to a MSWLF?

EPA has established several federal standards for MSWLFs in 40 CFR Part 258, including locations restrictions. operating criteria, design criteria, groundwater monitoring, corrective action, and financial assurance criteria.

In October 1991, EPA issued standards for municipal solid waste; under these regulations, permitting and enforcement authority fall to the states. Other non-hazardous solid waste is regulated under state rather than federal authority.

Landfills that accept municipal solid waste (MSW) are primarily regulated by state, tribal, and local governments.  Information regarding requirements other than those in 40 CFR Part 258 can be addressed by the state.


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Do you have a compliant about landfill odor?

The oversight of landfills is conducted at the state or local level. Please contact your state or local environmental or health agency to inquire about this issue. You can search our Links to Hazardous Waste Programs and State Environmental Agencies web page to find your state agency.

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How many landfills are there in the United States? Does EPA have a list of them?

EPA does not maintain a list of all the landfills in the United States, so we can't provide a definitive number on how many there are. There are several types of landfills in the United States – municipal solid waste, hazardous waste, industrial waste, coal combustion residuals, polychlorinated biphenyls, and construction and demolition debris. Below are links to EPA databases of landfills; however, none of them are comprehensive:

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