City of Albuquerque Interim Guidelines for Development within City Designated Landfill Buffer Zones (revised October 2005).
Through normal decomposition of buried refuse in former landfills, methane gas may be produced as a byproduct. If production of methane is significant, the landfill becomes pressurized forcing the methane gas out beyond the boundaries of the landfill. Methane generally follows the path of least resistance when it migrates. Typical areas it migrates through are utility corridors, existing gravel and/or sand deposits below the surface or areas where prior excavations have occurred and the fill was not properly compacted.
Because methane may migrate onsite and to offsite areas surrounding a landfill, there is a potential danger to development and activities associated with development as the methane may enter buildings through utility corridors or other means. Trenching during construction activities associated with development also has the potential to expose workers to methane.
Methane gas is explosive when the concentration in air reaches a certain level. Landfill gas may also be a health hazard due to other byproduct gases. As a result of the above concerns, these Interim Guidelines for Development (Interim Guidelines) within City of Albuquerque (City) Designated Landfill Buffer Zones are to be followed by all development within the City’s jurisdiction. These guidelines apply to all active or inactive City designated landfill buffer zones of City and private permitted landfills, unpermitted landfills, and/or illegal dumpsites.
1. All development, whether it proceeds through the Environmental Planning Commission (EPC), Development Review Board (DRB), Design Review Committee (DRC) or the building permit process shall be subject to the Interim Guidelines if the property falls on top of or within a City designated landfill buffer zone. The Albuquerque Environmental Health Department Environmental Services Division or its consultant will review all documentation concerning development within each designated landfill buffer zone from professional engineers and the developers/owners/responsible parties to ensure that the Interim Guidelines have been followed.
2. Development projects will include input from a professional engineer, with expertise in landfills and landfill gas issues, to determine if landfill gas (including but not limited to methane) exists on the property in question and whether there is a potential for the migration of landfill gas to impact the property or other properties in the future.
3. If landfill gas is present at the property in question or there is a potential for the property to be impacted in the future, plans must include risk abatement measures, which are adequate to address any existing and/or future risk related to landfill gas. The portion of the construction plans dealing with landfill gas abatement measures shall be certified by a professional engineer with landfill gas experience, noted on plat/site development plans or building permits, reviewed and signed-off by designated Albuquerque Environmental Health Department Environmental Services Division staff or its designated consultant. Work orders for construction of public infrastructure will not be issued by the Public Works Department until the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department has verified that the risk abatement measures are properly detailed on infrastructure construction plans. Certificates of occupancy will not be issued by the City's Planning Department until the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department has verified that the risk abatement measures are properly detailed on the building permit plans and properly constructed.
The certification process shall include the following steps:
A. An assessment performed by the professional engineer, with expertise in landfills and landfill gas, to determine the current presence and/or potential for future presence and extent of landfill gas at the property. The scope of work undertaken concerning the assessment of landfill gases and/or the risk abatement measures at the property must be sufficient for the professional engineer to render an unqualified opinion concerning the current presence and/or potential for future presence and extent of landfill gases at the property, and the sufficiency of the risk abatement measures to eliminate any hazards or potential hazards associated with landfill gases.
B. A commitment by the owner/developer/responsible party to follow abatement measures and acknowledgment that the commitment is a condition of development approval. (In the case of a large corporation, the certification letter will be signed by a representative, who has the authority to commit the corporation to implement the risk abatement measures.)
C. Construction plans detailing the risk abatement measures shall be submitted with the building permit plans.
D. A stamped certification from a professional engineer licensed to practice in New Mexico certifying that the construction of the project has been completed in compliance with the risk abatement measures as detailed on original construction plans (any changes in the original design of the risk abatement measures shall be coordinated with the landfill gas professional engineer and Albuquerque Environmental Health Department prior to implementation of the change).
E. Copies of landfill certification documentation will be submitted to the Planning Department and maintained in its development files.
F. If a determination is made that there is no landfill gas existing at the property and there is no future risk from landfill gas, the assessment report shall state how such a determination was made and shall be certified by a professional engineer with landfill gas experience. The “no risk” certification process shall include the same steps outlined above.
G. Properties within City designated landfill buffer zones must note on the site plan/plats/as-builts the following disclosure statement:
“The subject property is located (near, on) a (former, existing) landfill. Due to the subject property being (near, on) a (former, existing) landfill, certain precautionary measures may need to be taken to ensure the health and safety of the public. Recommendations made by a professional engineer with expertise in landfills and landfill gas issues (as required by the most current version of the Interim Guidelines for Development within City Designated Landfill Buffer Zones) shall be consulted prior to development of the site.”
H. The Interim Guidelines are for the development process and are not intended to affect planning or administrative processes that are not associated with physical changes to sites on or within City designated landfill buffer zones other than to raise the awareness of procedures to be undertaken prior to development.
I. Any removal of landfill materials during development of the property must also be coordinated with the New Mexico Environment Department – Solid Waste Bureau.
J. The following City designated landfill buffer zones are:
Atrisco LF-250 ft
Coronado LF site specific
Eubank LF- 500 ft (Except those areas within Sandia Science and Technology Park Phase I area)
Los Angeles LF-1000 ft
Nazareth LF- 500 ft
Riverside LF- 1000 ft
Russ Pitney LF-1000 ft
Sacramento LF- 500 ft
San Antonio LF- 500 ft
San Francisco Drive LF- 500 ft
Seay Brothers LF- 1000 ft
South Broadway LF- 1000 ft
Southwest LF-1000 ft
Swartzman LF-1000 ft
W.W. Cox LF-1000 ft
Yale LF – 500 ft
Private Permitted Landfills* – 1000 ft
Private Unpermitted Landfills* – 1000 ft
Illegal Dumpsites- 1000 ft
*Note: private permitted landfills have been permitted by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) Solid Waste Bureau, while private unpermitted landfills have not been permitted by the NMED Solid Waste Bureau.
Contact: Suzanne Busch, P.E. at 768-2633 for further information, if needed.