EPA/600/R-21/285
Innovative Science for a Sustainable Future
What is an Elevated Temperature Landfill?
The generation of heat in a municipal solid waste (MSW)
landfill is normal as microorganisms break down waste11 2].
Elevated temperature landfills (ETLFs) are MSW landfills
that exhibit temperatures above regulatory thresholds (131
or 145 F) due to abnormal chemical reactions within the
waste mass13"61. These reactions can cause changes in
landfill gas composition, noxious odors, rapid and severe
waste settlement, leachate seeps and outbreaks, and
generate strong leachate, all of which add to operator
costs for facility management.
ETLFs are NOT landfills that have experienced a fire.
Landfill fires typically occur at or near the surface
where oxygen is available, usually affect only a
small area, and can be quickly managed.
ETLFs require different conditions and corrective
actions than fires.
Common Indicators of an ETLF - Temperature and Gas Composition at the Well
 Elevated gas temperatures (>131 F)[6"101

Above 145 F, methane generation
slows. Above 162 F, minimal landfill
biological activity'2,3I.
131-145 F suggests heat-
generating chemical reactions may
be occurring'2,3I.
90-131 F indicates normal
operating landfills'2,31.
Decreased methane (CH4 <40%) along with increased
concentrations of C02 (> 50%)[6"101
Increased carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), and
ammonia (NH3) gases16,10,111
Contributing Factors
ETLFs likely result from a combination of reactive waste
streams and landfill management practices. One common
observation at ETLFs is that the affected area is wet,
which suggests poor drainage through waste131. Moisture
management is always an important consideration for
landfill designers and operators.
Accepted Waste Streams
Examples of waste streams that are
known or suspected of causing ele-
vated temperatures in landfills:
	Ashes and dusts (e.g., waste-to-
energy ash, baghouse dust)112"151
	Aluminum, iron, and steel pro-
duction by-products and wastes
(e.g., dross, slag)16,7,10,11,13,16-18]
rA Combination of
Factors
Contribute to
Elevated
Temperatures
Heat and Odor Management Strategies
	Apply geomembrane cover
	Add additional gas extraction wells
	Excavate gaps in waste mass
	Install and operate closed-loop heat exchanger
Management Practices
Internal moisture content can be affected by:
	Solidification, liquids addition, or leachate
recirculation
	Type and hydraulic properties of cover or
alternative cover materials
	Management of special wastes (i.e., co-
disposal or waste segregation)
	Removal of liquids from gas extraction
wells
If you suspect an ETLF, determine the information
that needs to be gathered to develop an appropriate
management and mitigation strategy.
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Examples of Strategies to Manage and Mitigate ETLFs
Bridgeton Landfill -
Bridgeton, Missouri
Site Description'191: Closed MSW landfill,
operated 1976-2004, 52 acres, 320 ft deep,
8.7 million metric tons (MMT) waste in place
Dates of ETLF Status'20,211: 2011-present
Indicators: >200 F gas 2009-2020;
noxious odors; sudden differential waste
settlement; strong leachate; CO in gas
Potential Contributing Factors: Unknown
industrial wastes
Management & Mitigation Strategy:
Exposed geomembrane cap installed, 2013-
2014. Subsurface barrier with heat
exchanger loop installed to limit reaction
from spreading to a second section of the
landfill, 2015-2016. Enhanced monitoring of
gas wells and landfill elevations.
Countywide Landfill -
East Sparta, Ohio
Site Description'191: Active MSW landfill,
175 acres, 184 ft deep, 22.0 MMT waste in
place
Dates of ETLF Status'22,231: 2006-present
Indicators: 230 F gas 2009, >300 F waste
2009; sudden waste settlement; noxious
odors; strong leachate; NH3, H2, and CO in
gas
Potential Contributing Factors:
Aluminum dross disposal and leachate
recirculation over the co-disposal area
Management & Mitigation Strategy:
Excavated a portion of the landfill to
physically separate impacted and non-
impacted areas. Installed geomembrane
cap. Enhanced monitoring of gas wells and
landfill elevations.
Waimanalo Gulch Landfill -
Oahu, Hawaii
Site Description'191: Active MSW landfill,
101 acres, 135 ft deep, 8.9 MMT waste in
place
Dates of ETLF Status'241: 2005-2008
Indicators: 188 F gas; H2 and CO in gas
Potential Contributing Factors: Co-
disposal of municipal waste incineration
ash with municipal waste
Management & Mitigation Strategy:
Installed gas collection system. Enhanced
monitoring of gas extraction wells.
Noble Road Landfill
Shiloh, Ohio
Site Description'191: Active MSW landfill, 91
acres, 213 ft deep, 6.6 MMT waste in place
Dates of ETLF Status'251: 2007-present
Indicators: >131 F gas
Potential Contributing Factors: Reaction
of steel slag, which was accepted and
used as daily cover
Management & Mitigation Strategy:
Installed new gas extraction wells.
Enhanced monitoring and reporting for
wells of interest.
Middle Point Landfill -
Middle Point, Tennessee
Site Description'191: Active MSW landfill,
193 acres, 210 ft deep, 26.2 MMT waste in
place
Dates of ETLF Status'261: 2011-present
Indicators: >131 F gas; noxious odors
Potential Contributing Factors:
Aluminum dross disposal
Impacts: Management & Mitigation
Strategy: Installed geomembrane cap.
Installed new gas extraction wells.
Enhanced monitoring and reporting for
wells of interest.
Rumpke Landfill
Cincinnati, Ohio
Site Description'191: Active MSW landfill,
315 acres, 197 ft deep, 55.3 MMT waste in
place
Dates of ETLF Status'271: 2009-present
Indicators: >131 F gas; sudden waste
settlement; destroyed gas extraction wells,
strong leachate; noxious odors
Potential Contributing Factors:
Unknown industrial waste
Management & Mitigation Strategy:
Installed geomembrane cap. Installed steel
gas extraction wells. Enhanced monitoring
and reporting for wells of interest.
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When Does a Municipal Solid Waste Landfill Become an Elevated Temperature Landfill (ETLF)?
References
1.	Yeiller, N., J.L. Hanson, and E.H. Yee. Waste heat
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Contact: Max Krause, Engineer, US EPA Office of Research &
Development, krause.max@epa.gov
Disclaimer: This document is for informational purposes only and is not
intended as legal advice. The contents are for general informational
purposes and should not be construed as legal advice concerning any
specific circumstances. You are urged to consult legal counsel concern-
ing any specific situation or legal issues. This document does not ad-
dress all federal, state, and local regulations, and other rules may apply.
This document does not substitute for any EPA regulation and is not an
EPA rule. This document has been reviewed in accordance with U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency policy and approved for publication.
January 2022
EPA/600/R-21/285
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