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Projects & Proposals > Staten Island > Fresh Kills Printer Friendly Version
Fresh Kills Park Project
About the Site
Introduction | Project History | About the Site | Draft Master Plan
Project Phasing | FAQs | Get Involved!

Public Health and Monitoring
A variety of federal, state and local laws and regulations govern the present and future use of the Fresh Kills Park. The overall goals of these regulations are to protect and preserve public health and the environment. To do so, it is essential that the integrity of the landfill and its systems be maintained. In addition to monitoring the landfill, there are regulations that govern the city's land uses, the quality of its air and water, and its coastal resources.

It is anticipated that it will take a minimum of thirty years before garbage decomposition is complete, associated gas production and settlement cease, and leachate fully drains from the site. As these processes occur, there will be a continuing need for regular maintenance, monitoring and evaluation of the site and systems that have been put into place - primarily the final cover, landfill gas (LFG) and leachate systems, as well as the extensive network of monitoring wells. It is essential that access to these systems be preserved for inspection, maintenance and repair during this period.

Two of the four mounds at Fresh Kills are already capped with a thick, impermeable cover that separates the waste from the environment and the public. The remaining two mounds are currently in the process of being capped.  The City's Department of Sanitation (DSNY) is currently working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to ensure environmentally sound closure of the landfill sections that remain to be capped as well as to prepare for the DSNY's long-term operational responsibility for on-site environmental monitoring and control systems covering the entire landfill footprint.  No area of Fresh Kills will be open for general public access until it has been tested and found safe for park use.
Landfill Regulations
The DEC's Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste Materials regulates landfill closure and post-closure operations under 6 NYCRR Part 360, Solid Waste Management Facilities (Title 6 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules, and Regulation of the State of New York).

The Solid Waste Management regulations address the need to identify and manage current or potential future releases of pollutants or the mitigation of contaminants from a landfill, and to control and mitigate any impacts once landfill operations have ceased.  Among the requirements, all of which are met at Fresh Kills, are landfill gas control, leachate collection and treatment, and a post-closure operation and maintenance plan for a minimum 30-year period.

Air Quality Regulations
Under the 1970 Clean Air Act, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six air contaminants (criteria pollutants) for protection against adverse impacts to public health and welfare.  These standards are have also been adopted by DEC and are specified in 6 NYCRR Part 275.

EPA and DEC regulations include emissions guidelines for municipal solid waste landfills, such as Fresh Kills.  The emissions of concern from landfills are non-methane organic compounds (NMOC) and methane. The Fresh Kills gas containment and collections system involves capping the landfill, installing a gas collection system of trenches, and headers to convey the gas to one or more collection points for beneficial use (power generation) or for flaring (under controlled conditions).  During the time that the gas is being recovered for reuse by Keyspan Energy, the flares are used as a safety back-up measure in the event the recovery system is down.  In the future, when little or no gas is generated by the site and the active extraction system is no longer cost-effective, the remaining methane will be flared off.

Soil Standards
Unlike air and water, the framework for regulation of soil quality is not established by a single law or program.  Rather, there is a collection of regulations and guidelines at the federal and state levels that are intended to apply to soil in certain situations.

Both the federal and state hazardous materials management programs provide procedures for evaluating whether soils have the potential to cause adverse impacts to human health or the environment.  This is generally performed on a case-by-case basis, since the potential for adverse impacts depends on the likely pathways and extent of exposure.  Both EPA and DEC have developed “screening levels,” i.e., levels below which there is unlikely to be a concern given assumptions about the potential for exposure.

Water Quality Regulations
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act (CWA), requires the EPA to establish and periodically update national water quality standards that are based on quantifiable pollutant concentrations and that aim to protect the environment and human health.  Individual states then use these published standards to set allowable concentrations of pollutants in groundwater and surface water.  In New York State, surface water and groundwater quality standards and groundwater effluent limitations are promulgated by DEC through 6 NYCRR.

At Fresh Kills, groundwater monitoring wells are installed at intervals of about 500 feet in the shallow groundwater around each landfill mound, at 750 feet in the groundwater zones downgradient of the mounds, and at 1,500 feet in the groundwater zones upgradient of the mounds.  In total there are 238 groundwater monitoring wells at Fresh Kills, 116 of which are shallow well, 61 are intermediate depth wells, and 61 are deep bedrock wells.  Groundwater monitoring is performed quarterly at each well.

In addition to the groundwater monitoring plan, there is also a surface water monitoring plan.  This monitoring program includes an annual surface water monitoring plan for Fresh Kills, Main and Richmond Creeks within the landfill boundaries and a biennial monitoring program for their sediment quality.  Monitoring is performed.  Surface water and sediment sampling is performed at a total of 14 sampling stations.  Four of these stations are also monitored for benthic ecology (the study of organisms living in and on the sea floor) at both the intertidal and subtidal zones.

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