As concerns over potential exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFOS) increase, the federal government is looking to designate these compounds as hazardous. PFOS levels in leachate have naturally increased as landfills, both municipal and privately owned, have received these chemicals in various forms for decades.
Once national standards for leachate management are established, requirements likely will drive additional capital and operating cost. Many landfill operators are preemptively collecting data on current levels of PFOS in their leachate, and some are entertaining treatment options that remove the contaminants before discharge to public waters or POTWs. One approach under review is to remove the compounds via a concentrate (5-10% of flow) and return the concentrate to the landfill. This approach relies on the liner to permanently entomb (PFOS) as a long-term solution since the compounds will recirculate indefinitely.
As the regulations role out and the treatment and sampling requirements become clearer, the impact on the industry may be significant. Forward-thinking operators are already scenario planning for a variety of outcomes.
This development is worth watching!