Under the requirements of the Title 27 California Code of Regulations (T27CCR), all operators of Class II and Class III municipal solid waste landfill facilities (MSWLF) are required to prepare and file a preliminary closure plan, a postclosure maintenance plan, partial final, or a final closure plan and postclosure maintenance plan at time of filing for a permit or revisions of project or permit review or renewal.
Each plan must provide the information, as required under T27CCR that is necessary for the local enforcement agency, the Regional Water Quality Control Boards and the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) to make the required assessment as to the adequacy of the plans.
This closure plan review process is undertaken for each of the different closure plan types.
- Preliminary Closure Plan Completeness Review Checklist (CalRecycle Form 176)
- Preliminary Closure Plan Qualitative Review Checklist (CalRecycle Form 178)
- Final Closure Plan Completeness Review Checklist (CalRecycle Form 174)
- Final Closure Plan Qualitative Review Checklist (CalRecycle Form 177)
Closure and Postclosure Maintenance Plans For Class II and III Landfills
Closure and postclosure maintenance plans ensure that landfill closure and postclosure maintenance and the eventual reuse of disposal sites will conform to state performance standards and minimum substantive requirements. The owner and operator of the disposal site, or landfill, are responsible for developing and implementing the plans.
The plans must provide: (1) specific written descriptions of closure and postclosure maintenance activities, and (2) reasonable estimates of the maximum cost of closure by a third party at the time during its active life when the extent and manner of operation would make the closure most expensive, and to maintain it through the postclosure period.
The operator must also provide demonstrations of financial responsibility for both closure and postclosure maintenance. Closure and postclosure plans are required for all solid waste disposal sites operating after January 1, 1988. They are subject to the review and approval of the enforcement agency (EA), the regional water quality control board (RWQCB), and CalRecycle.
Closure means the process during which a landfill or disposal site, or a portion thereof (e.g., waste management unit, as defined in Title 27, California Code of Regulations (27 CCR) §20164), is no longer receiving waste and is being prepared for postclosure maintenance according to an approved plan and construction schedule. Closed means a disposal site has ceased accepting waste and has been closed in accordance with applicable statutes, regulations and local ordinances in effect at the time. Postclosure maintenance means all activities undertaken at a closed waste management unit to maintain the integrity of containment features, and to monitor compliance with applicable performance standards.
Landfill means a waste management unit at which waste is discharged in or on land for disposal. Landfill does not include surface impoundment, waste pile, land treatment unit, injection well, or soil amendments. Waste management unit means an area of land, or a portion of a waste management facility, at which waste is discharged ( i.e., waste management facilities may contain one or more waste management activities, such as a recycling or composting facility in addition to a landfill). Solid waste disposal site refers to a specific area where solid waste is received. Landfills and solid waste disposal sites subject to the regulations cited below are Class II (27 CCR §20250) and/or Class III (27 CCR §20260), depending on a determination of the non-hazardous character of the waste received and the manner in which it is contained, either isolated or adequately separated from the waters of the state, respectively.
See 27 CCR §20164 for further definitions.
Two Basic Plans Required
Approved closure and postclosure maintenance plans are a prerequisite of a facility’s operating permit. The plans establish estimated third party costs of their implementation. The closure plan identifies the steps necessary for a partial or complete closure and the detailed plan and schedule for the operator to implement in accordance with the plan. The postclosure maintenance plan provides a description of the specific inspection, monitoring and maintenances tasks and the schedule for the operator to implement during the postclosure period. Although the two plans are interdependent, they are stand-alone documents that define and distinguish two separate phases of the solid waste disposal process.
Each closure plan and postclosure maintenance plan shall:
- Contain the performance standards and minimum substantive requirements to ensure the landfill is properly closed and maintained to protect public health, safety and the environment.
- Contain cost estimates certified for accuracy by a registered civil engineer or a certified engineering geologist, which enables CalRecycle to assess the reasonableness of the cost estimates.
- Provide documentation that adequate funding is available for the disposal site’s respective closure and postclosure maintenance period.
Closure and postclosure maintenance plans may be preliminary, final, or partial final.
Preliminary Closure Plan
- Purpose: To provide a generalized estimate of the maximum expected costs that would be incurred by a third party to close the landfill at any time during its active life pursuant to§21820.
- Contents to include: Identification of the steps necessary to perform a complete landfill closure pursuant to the SWRCB and CalRecycle requirements set forth in §21769 and §21790, respectively.
Preliminary Postclosure Maintenance Plan
- Purpose: To provide an accurate annualized preliminary estimate of postclosure inspection, maintenance, and monitoring costs.
- Contents to include: (1) a description of the planned uses of the property in accordance with §21190, and (2) a preliminary description of the methods, procedures, and processes that will be used to maintain, monitor and inspect the closed landfill to comply with §21190.
Final Closure Plan (§21800)
- Purpose: To provide (1) an accurate detailed (itemized) estimate of closure costs, and (2) a detailed plan and schedule for implementing closure and third party closure certification.
- Contents to include: (1) a detailed description of the steps necessary to perform closure pursuant to §21790, (2) a detailed description of the sequence of closure stages with tentative implementation dates, and (3) a detailed schedule for disbursement of funds for closure activities from a trust fund, or enterprise fund if applicable, for advance payment or reimbursement of costs for closure activities in accordance with the plan.
Final Postclosure Maintenance Plan
- Purpose: To provide an accurate detailed annualized cost estimate for the inspection, maintenance, and monitoring of the landfill during postclosure.
- Contents to include, but not limited to: (1) an emergency response plan pursuant to §21130, (2) contact information for the parties responsible for postclosure maintenance, (3) a description of the planned uses of the property during the postclosure period pursuant to §21190, as-built descriptions of the landfill’s monitoring and control systems that will be in use and any modifications or changes that are proposed during the postclosure period, (5) a detailed description of the methods, procedures, and processes that will be used to maintain, monitor and inspect the landfill pursuant to §21180, (6) an operations and maintenance plan for the gas control system, and (7) a summary of the requirements for reporting the results of monitoring and collection pursuant to §21180.
Partial Final Closure Plan and Postclosure Maintenance Plan
- The purpose and contents are the same as for final plans only the plans only apply to the part of the site being closed.
A registered civil engineer or a certified engineering geologist must certify the accuracy of the cost estimates for each plan, which enables the RWQCB and CalRecycle to assess the reasonableness of the cost estimates.
The performance standards and minimum requirements to protect public health and safety and the environment are set forth in regulations promulgated by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and CalRecycle in Title 27, Division 2, Chapter 3, Subchapter 5, Articles 1 and 2, California Code of Regulations (27 CCR) §20950 and §21100, respectively. These regulations apply to:
- All new or active landfills that were operating on and after January 1, 1988 and require solid waste facility operating permits pursuant to Public Resources Code (PRC) §44001 et seq.;
- Disposal sites that did not complete closure prior to November 18, 1990;
- New postclosure activities that may jeopardize the integrity of closed disposal sites.
- Previously closed, illegal, and abandoned disposal sites that pose a threat to public health and safety and the environment as determined by the EA.
The performance standards and minimum requirements for the development and implementation of closure and postclosure maintenance plans are set forth in 27 CCR Division 2, Chapter 4 Subchapter 4, 27 CCR §21679 et seq. (SWRCB) and §21770 et seq. (CIWMB) and apply to all solid waste landfills that were operating on or after January 1, 1988.
A registered civil engineer or a certified engineering geologist shall certify each submittal, and each shall include:
- The preliminary or final closure and postclosure maintenance plans containing all of the elements specified under §21790 through §21840, as applicable.
- Cost estimates for closure and postclosure activities to reflect the components under §21820 and §21840.
- Demonstration of financial responsibility in accordance with §22205 et seq.
The operator shall submit a copy of the draft plans to the LEA, the RWQCB and the CIWMB (§21780).
The plans must include drawings at an appropriate scale showing the landfill and its pertinent features, and will be clearly marked “preliminary,” “final” or “partial final.”
Labor Transition Plan
Operators are required to submit a “Labor Transition Plan” (LTP) and a certification respecting the LTP to the EA when the operator submits a final closure plan to the EA and CalRecycle. The LTP EAs shall receive a copy of the LTP and the operator’s certification. EAs are not responsible for assuring that the LTPs contain all the elements required by the statute, nor are they responsible for evaluating the adequacy or merits of the Plan. CalRecycle shall receive only a copy of the operator’s certification. An explanation of the LTP is included in a January 2004 letter which also includes a sample certification.
Schedule of Submittal
Preliminary closure and postclosure maintenance plans for existing solid waste landfills are submitted at the time the operator applies for each solid waste facility permit (SWFP) review or revision, either as part of a joint technical document (JTD) or as a separate but distinct component of a JTD.
Preliminary closure and postclosure maintenance plans for new landfills are submitted either as a part of a JTD or as a separate document in the form of a distinct component of a JTD at or before the time of application for a SWFP.
Final closure and postclosure maintenance plans are submitted two years prior to the anticipated date of final receipt of waste.
For the complete closure of discrete units, partial final closure and postclosure maintenance plans are submitted for each unit two years prior o the anticipated date of closure of that discrete unit in accordance with §§21800 and 21830. Closure of a discrete unit must not begin prior to approval of the final partial closure and postclosure maintenance plans for that unit. The specific closure details for each discrete unit must be compatible with closure of the entire landfill.
Partial final closure and postclosure maintenance plans for individual or for one or a combination of closure activities must be approved before the implementation of such activities.
If immediate closure is necessary to protect public health and safety and the environment or an operator should cease accepting waste permanently prior to the anticipated closure date, final plans shall be submitted in accordance with a schedule specified by the EA with the concurrence of the RWQCB and CalRecycle.
Review and Approval (27 CCR §21860)
Once the plans are submitted, the RWQCB, CalRecycle and the EA have 30 days to determine if they meet the requirements for completeness. If an agency determines the plans are incomplete, it shall notify the operator accordingly. The operator has 60 days from the end of this initial 30-day review period to revise, complete and re-submit the plans. If the agencies should fail to notify the operator that the plans are incomplete within 30 days, the plans shall be deemed complete by default.
If the completeness determination has been made, the agencies have 120 days to review the plans for compliance and submit any comments or suggested revisions to the operator. If no comments are submitted by the agencies within this period, the plans are approved by default. When comments are submitted, from the end of the 120-day period the operator again will have 60 days to revise and re-submit the plans.
These procedures shall be repeated until all comments by the EA, RWQCB and CalRecycle have been adequately addressed. At this time, the coordinating agency (CalRecycle by default) has 10 days to notify the operator of its approval or explain its findings.
Implementation of Closure
Closure is implemented according to the schedules specified in §§ 21800 & 21810.
Closure activities shall not begin until the responsible agencies, including CalRecycle, have approved the plans (§21870).
Closure construction activities must begin within 30 days of the receipt of the last shipment of waste per §21110, unless the closure schedule is modified or extended as approved by the LEA with the concurrence of the RWQCB and CIWMB. If the closure schedule or specific activities cannot be adhered to due to weather or factors beyond the operator’s control, the time frames may be lengthened according to the specific factors. Unless granted an extension, closure must be completed within 180 days.
CalRecycle regulations revised in 2003 prohibit “trickling” waste to delay closure and set up a review/approval process for determining if trickling is for a reason other than delaying closure (§21110(b)).
Certification of Closure
The operator must certify under penalty of perjury that the landfill was closed in accordance with the approved closure plan (§21880). The certification must be completed by a registered civil engineer or a certified engineering geologist and include a construction quality assurance (CQA) report with supporting documentation.
If the certification is approved by the regulatory agencies, the operator shall be released from the financial assurance mechanism for closure. As of this date, the landfill is considered closed and in postclosure maintenance.
During the postclosure maintenance period, pursuant to §21870:
- The final or partial final closure and postclosure maintenance plans (Plans) shall be considered as a Report of Facility Information Amendment and the application package required by §21665(a).
- The Plans and standards set forth in 27 CCR Chapter 3 shall be incorporated by reference in the solid waste facility permit (SWFP).
- On or before the date of the closure certification the EA shall update the SWFP pursuant to §21670. The updated SWFP takes the place of a permit review under §§21620 or 21640.
A sample fill-in-the-blank permit (CalRecycle Form 214A) (Revised 3/23/10) (Fillable PDF) and recommended procedures (Updated 8/30/10) for developing and issuing the permit have been prepared by CalRecycle staff.