Poorly managed landfill sites may pose an unacceptable risk to public health and the environment through the contamination of land, groundwater and surface water, and the emission of landfill gas. As many of these risks are below ground they can be difficult to identify and take time to materialise. The community can also be impacted by odour from landfills.
To address these risks and protect the environment, specific environmental objectives and compliance standards for landfills are set out in EPA’s best practice environmental management publication Siting, design, operation and rehabilitation of landfills (the Landfill BPEM) (publication 788). Landfill operators must meet the objectives and required outcomes of the Landfill BPEM to protect the environment and comply with Victorian Government policy.
Landfills serving more than 5,000 people are required to hold a licence from EPA to operate. Landfills serving smaller populations, that are exempt from licensing, can also pose a risk to the environment and must be managed to prevent impacts.
Landfills exempt from licensing (EPA publication 1563), released early in 2014, aims to ensure such facilities in Victoria are well sited, well built and operated at the highest standards to deliver the environmental and public health benefits that Victorians expect. In 2014–15 EPA will be inspecting landfills exempt from licensing to assess performance against the guidelines.
What is EPA focusing on?
In 2014–15, EPA will be focusing on the appropriate management of landfill sites, and will be assessing compliance against licence conditions and annual performance statements. EPA will undertake a number of strategic inspections to further investigate leachate management. In addition, we will inspect a number of closed exempt landfill sites to assess their current status and condition, including the state of capping, the surrounding land use and evidence of any environmental impacts.
EPA will also undertake inspections of landfills that are exempt from licensing to assess performance against Landfills exempt from licensing.
We will continue to build our internal compliance and enforcement capability relating to landfills. In conjunction with the compliance activity, we will work with key stakeholders to determine the level of industry knowledge and the information gaps to co-develop the appropriate support to improve landfill management.
What can you do?
- Ensure you have adequate monitoring mechanisms in place to detect any impacts to the environment
- Be familiar with EPA’s guidelines on the siting, design and management landfills