Costs of the "Am Brenten" household waste landfill 25 years after the end of operations

The real costs of household waste landfills are not incurred until long after operations have ceased.


The real costs of household waste landfills are not incurred until long after operations have ceased. The landfill "Am Brenten" in Hausham, Germany shows how much money the operator has to raise to cover and recultivate the former household waste landfill. Only then does the "aftercare" phase begin, which will require the operator to exercise the utmost care and money for another 30 to 50 years to operate the leachate treatment plant, safely capture the remaining landfill gas, and test all remaining emissions to air and soil. 19 million Eur are set aside as reserves.

The "Am Brenten" landfill in Hausham, district of Miesbach Germany will receive its final cover layer in 2022 at a cost of nine million euros. Already the interim cover of the last operated landfill area after its closure amounted to around 3.2 million euros in 2005 and 2006.
Expenditures for the rehabilitation of 2 old landfill areas (completed in the 1970s and 1990s, respectively), the securing of a perimeter dam with earth nails, and the final recultivation of the last landfill area operated until the end of May 2005 will total around €16.6 million. The work has been underway since 2019 and will be completed in the spring of next year.
However, the end of the measures is far from in sight.
Around 500,000 tons of household waste are stored in the former "Am Brenten" landfill site in Hausham. The waste comes from the almost 90,000 inhabitants and from the tourists who regularly visit the district of Miesbach in the beautiful foothills of the Alps south of Munich.
In time for the deadline of the landfill ban at the end of June 2005, the landfill "Am Brenten" was also closed in May 2005. After the last storage of domestic waste, an intermediate cover was applied so that the waste and the subsoil had enough time to settle down and so that subsidence could subside.
Now - in 2022 - after this period is completed, the final cover can follow.
Already in 2011, when the decisions on further measures for the landfill were made, the then chairman of the municipal waste management company Vivo, Walter Hartwig, put the problem in a nutshell: "Simply turning the key and leaving the site to its own devices is not going to work,
To ensure that this does not happen, that constantly smoldering odors disturb neighboring houses and that water contaminated with pollutants seeps into the ground, the Municipal Enterprise of the District of Miesbach (Vivo KU) has been taking care of its aftercare since the end of the landfill in 2005.
Final sealing:
The approximately nine-hectare subarea C will receive its final cover layer. On this, the existing 40-centimeter-thick soil layer will be removed and stored on the side. A 2.5-millimeter-thick plastic waterproofing membrane is then applied, which is a core element of the entire waterproofing system. It prevents surface water from entering the landfill and keeps the gas processes running. On top of the plastic liner, in turn, comes a drainage mat that drains away seepage surface water. On top of this, the laterally interposed soil layer is reapplied and further material is installed until a total layer one meter thick is created.
Vivo KU also intends to pay these nine million euros for the current work entirely from provisions that the company has set aside for this case. It currently has 19 million euros set aside, reports board member Thomas Frey, and thus has enough money for future measures. In addition, the amount will be adjusted annually in line with expected costs. Most of the previous capping and rehabilitation work has also been paid for out of reserves.
Finally, the area will be recultivated or revegetated. The last 60 percent of the landfill will then be sealed in 2023.
Even after the cover is built, the site cannot be used for other purposes. That would require formal "release from the aftercare phase" - that is, an official determination that the landfill no longer poses a threat to the public good. For this to happen, the waste must have come to rest completely, i.e. no longer produce any leachate or gases, explains Thomas Frey, the current CEO of the municipal company.
Whether and when the authority will certify that is completely open, says Thomas Frey. "It won't be before 2035. That's how long the statutory minimum period runs." However, Mr. Frey is more likely to assume that it will take "significantly longer" "until something new can be built on the former landfill." VIVO KU estimates that the ongoing decommissioning and aftercare costs that will still be incurred by then will amount to around €6 million.