NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – In February of this year, New Hanover County proactively volunteered to be the first landfill to participate in North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s (NCDEQ) new landfill leachate sampling protocol. NCDEQ’s sampling results have been received, showing that the landfill’s reverse osmosis (RO) system is effectively filtering out Per- and Polyfluorinated chemicals (PFAS) prior to discharging treated water into the Northeast Cape Fear River.
“These results are important for our community – to know that New Hanover County is taking a proactive approach through data-driven science to treat leachate at our landfill,” said County Manager Chris Coudriet. “We proactively volunteered for this study after we learned more about landfill leachate as a possible source of PFAS in water bodies. With the Board of Commissioners leadership, the landfill has been, and will continue to be, actively and innovatively making environmental stewardship a priority.”
Landfill leachate is formed when rainwater infiltrates and percolates through waste. It been identified as a potential source of PFAS because of the industrial waste, sewage, and other PFAS-containing consumer products found at the landfill.
The county installed the reverse osmosis system, which treats the leachate and then circulates the reject byproduct back into the landfill, more than two years ago to help prevent contaminants from entering the environment. NCDEQ’s results show no detectable levels of PFAS in the treated leachate, confirming the system works effectively.
NCDEQ sampled various points at the landfill, including raw leachate, treated water through the RO system, groundwater wells on site, and surface water from the Northeast Cape Fear River upstream from the landfill. All samples were analyzed for 33 PFAS and a summary, including a full data report, can be viewed here.
NCDEQ will continue to collaborate with other landfills across the state to better understand the potential for PFAS in landfill leachate, and New Hanover County will continue to partner with NCDEQ as part of their landfill sampling plan.