The Solid Waste Management Program has regulatory authority over more than 200 active and closed landfills in the state. The program had a need for funding to evaluate the potential environmental impacts from closed landfills on Missouri’s natural resources. In 2010, the program obtained a Technical Assistance Grant from the USDA Rural Development Utilities Program to allow for evaluation and outreach assistance to owners of rural landfills throughout Missouri.

History of Solid Waste Disposal Facilities

Initially, trash was tossed into local open dumps with little thought to its impact on the environment as it began to decompose and infiltrate the underlying soil and groundwater as well as moving into surface waters. Since the 1970s, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has regulated landfills which have evolved from waste buried in soil covered trenches to today’s regionally operated and highly engineered solid waste disposal cells. As concerns over limited natural resources and our impact on the environment increased, so did the regulation and oversight of these landfills. Out of necessity, the small, older sites closed or were required to transition to meet the modern regulatory requirements and industry practices. Most of the smaller sites, which were local landfills, chose to close. However, the waste contained in these sites has not disappeared. Many of the original owners have passed away leaving the landfills to their heirs or the properties have been sold to new owners with little or no knowledge of the landfills or the need to maintain them. In some instances landfills have been abandoned. Circumstances, such as these, highlight the need to ensure landfills are noted on property deeds and to provide education to new landfill owners so they understand their responsibilities in owning and maintaining closed landfill properties.

Missouri Closed Landfill Technical Assistance Project

The Missouri Closed Landfill Technical Assistance Project’s focus is two-fold:   1) assessing the condition of some of Missouri’s older, closed, rural landfills, which operated under less stringent standards than modern landfills, and 2) providing technical assistance and training to counties, municipalities, and individuals throughout the state who own the old disposal areas. This guidance and training addresses landfill maintenance activities, buying and selling of property containing a landfill, and future use of the landfill property to ensure surrounding land and water resources are protected.

The Solid Waste Management Program's project began about Oct. 1, 2010. Through file reviews and site assessments, the program examined 58 landfills throughout the state. The site assessments were completed April 29, 2011, and the perliminary results were compiled by June 17, 2011. The program presented findings of the assessments in summer 2011, and preparations of individual evaluation reports and follow-up discussions with the owners are occurring in the fall to address findings.  Upon completion of the project (Dec. 31, 2011), the Solid Waste Management Program’s goal is for current owners of these properties to better understand the closed landfills they own and be prepared to manage the site with minimal, if any, environmental impact to the surrounding community.

Project Deliverables

This material is based upon work supported under a grant by the Rural Utilities Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Rural Utilities Service.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources is an equal opportunity provider and employer.