EPA has announced that it will begin a rulemaking to regulate PFAS in landfill leachate discharges. Pursuant to the 2021 Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plan, EPA has been collecting data on wastewater discharges from the Landfills Point Source Category (40 CFR part 445), with a focus on PFAS discharges. EPA refers to this data collection as the Landfill Leachate Detailed Study. The goals of the study were to understand the total number and location of landfills discharging leachate, characterize PFAS leachate effluent from regulated landfills, and identify current wastewater treatment technologies and management practices at these landfills.
Study results on effluent from 200 landfills revealed that 95 percent of the facilities discharged PFAS. The detections included 63 different PFAS with average concentrations for an individual compound as high as 14,000 part-per-trillion (ppt). This announcement was included in the Agency’s Effluent Guidelines Program Plan, which was released last month. The Effluent Guidelines Program Plan explains that
The details of the pending rulemaking and how the proposed rule could impact daily landfill operations are limited, but EPA commented that landfill operators are likely able to treat PFAS with technologies onsite. These technologies could include granular active carbon, ion exchange, and reverse osmosis. Further, the timing of the rule is uncertain as the Agency awaits other PFAS decisions, such as the anticipated regulation of PFAS designation as hazardous substances under RCRA and CERCLA.
Through the Effluent Guidelines Program Plan, the Agency is pursuing additional PFAS-related actions as well, including:
- Data gathering on textile mills’ use and treatment of PFAS in the industry and associated PFAS discharges.
- Initiation of a Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) Influent Study on PFAS, which will focus on gathering nationwide data on industrial discharges of PFAS to POTWs. The focus of the study will be to verify current sources of PFAS wastewater and document new PFAS water sources.
- Continuing monitoring PFAS use and discharges from the Pulp, Paper, and Paperboard Category (40 CFR part 430).
- Continuing monitoring of PFAS use and discharge at airports.