San Joaquin Valley landfill operator must spend $3.8 million to control its air pollution
March 28, 2012
• Will have to add equipment, buy new trucks
• ‘Today’s settlement is good news for the families of the San Joaquin Valley’
Forward Inc., of Manteca has agreed to spend approximately $3.8 million to improve its landfill’s gas collection and control system and to replace trucks in the landfill’s fleet with less polluting vehicles to settle alleged violations of air pollution laws at its landfill in Manteca.
Forward has also agreed to pay a civil penalty of $200,000, to be shared with the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District, a co-plaintiff in the enforcement action against Forward.
“Today’s settlement is good news for the families of the San Joaquin Valley,” says U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner. “Cleaning up the Valley’s air so that our children can breathe easier is important for all of us.”
The settlement resolves allegations that Forward violated the Clean Air Act by operating gas extraction wells in the landfill’s gas system in violation of the permit it had received from the air pollution control district, and that Forward did not obtain permits required for equipment at the landfill.
Federal law requires large landfills that are significant emitters of air pollution to install and operate systems that will collect gasses, such as air toxics, organic compounds, and methane, out of the decomposing refuse and destroy them, rather than allowing them to escape into the atmosphere.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. These systems are to be operated so that they draw and collect as much gas as possible without pulling air into the landfill that can start fires in the decomposing waste. The complaint alleges that Forward operated its gas system such that it caused multiple fires at the Manteca landfill.
“Landfill fires that deteriorate the air quality in San Joaquin Valley are unacceptable,” says Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest.
The settlement requires Forward to overhaul the landfill’s gas system by November to improve gas control and collection and to bring the facility back into compliance with regulations governing landfills, which will require an investment of approximately $1.7 million. The settlement also requires Forward to implement specific operations and maintenance actions to minimize air intrusion and the likelihood of subsurface fires at the landfill.
Forward also will reduce its particulate matter emissions by replacing 19 diesel trucks it currently owns with cleaner burning vehicles by the end of 2013, at an estimated cost of $2.1 million.