Public Health

Public Health and Environment Protection

The Austin Community Landfill is operated safely and in compliance with protective state and federal environmental laws. Waste Management meets or exceeds state and federal environmental requirements designed to protect air, groundwater and surface water.

The landfill is scientifically engineered to minimize environmental impacts through use of sound planning, design and operations, which provide safe, long-term disposal of waste within the facility.

Groundwater protection is an integral part of construction and operations. Since Waste Management purchased the landfill, it has met or exceeded federal and state landfill liner requirements designed to protect groundwater. The current landfill liner system uses a federal- and state-approved composite liner system consisting of re-compacted clay soil and a high-density polyethylene plastic liner.

Groundwater monitoring wells located around the perimeter of the site are sampled and analyzed on a scheduled basis by trained monitoring technicians. The water quality data is evaluated by independent professionals and submitted directly to TCEQ.

A leachate collection and extraction system is placed over the liner system. (Leachate is the liquid generated from rainfall and the natural decomposition of waste.) Leachate is collected in sumps and automatically pumped to an onsite holding pond.

To manage storm water runoff, the Austin Community Landfill uses silt fences, rock dams, erosion control mats, and other best management practices.

The landfill employs a collection and recovery system to control landfill gas, which is formed by the decomposition of solid waste. Gas extraction wells have been installed to remove the gas, which is directed to a central, high-temperature flare that safely destroys the gas.

Construction of a gas-to-energy plant is proposed to be completed in 2007. The plant will use landfill gas to produce "green energy." The green energy power station is expected to have a 5.8 megawatt generation capacity of green energy, producing enough electricity to power nearly 6,000 homes.

The TCEQ inspects the landfill and its operating standards on a regular basis. These announced and unannounced inspections include a review of the facility operations and record-keeping standards.