Closure/Postclosure of Disposal Sites

Closure is the process during which a landfill or disposal site, or a portion thereof, is no longer receiving waste and is being prepared for postclosure maintenance according to an approved plan and construction schedule. When a site is closed, it has ceased accepting waste and has been closed in accordance with applicable statutes, regulations, and local ordinances in effect at the time.

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.

Approved closure and postclosure maintenance plans are a prerequisite of a facility’s operating permit. The owner and operator of the disposal site, or landfill, are responsible for developing and implementing the plans.

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 the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).

An issue that has been raised by LEAs is whether the Polanco Redevelopment Act can be applied to solid waste disposal sites. If this issue is of interest to you, please review the discussion paper by California Integrated Waste Management Board (now CalRecycle) staff on why we believe the Polanco Act does not apply to actions taken by the LEA/Board at solid waste disposal sites.

The closure of a landfill can employ new and innovative technologies and practices, or it can utilize well established techniques that have proven themselves over time. Special circumstances, opportunities, and demands in landfill closure have provided opportunities to explore innovative means to achieve regulatory compliance, provide new secondary postclosure uses, or achieve final resolution to a closed landfill.

Two examples include revegetation and environmental restoration, and CEQA compliance in paleontology. Some unique postclosure examples employing special technologies adapted to the unique circumstances involving major public land use projects are found in the section postclosure uses. Information on new innovative emerging technologies, including secondary gas-to-energy conversion technologies, are available through one of several websites including: Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP). New landfill cap concepts are discussed in Alternative Cover Assessment Program, (US EPA).

CalRecycle’s Closure and Technical Support Section is responsible for all Department of Defense (DoD) sites and all solid waste disposal sites subject to the closure regulations. These disposal sites include: (1) all sites operated after January 1, 1988, (2) those sites that ceased operation prior to that date but did not complete closure activities in accordance with all applicable regulations, and (3) all new postclosure land uses.

For more information contact: Solid Waste Facilities,