Science Center Objects

The Reston Biogeochemical Processes in Groundwater Laboratory (RPBGL) studies landfill leachate biogeochemistry and the natural attenuation of contaminants in leachate plumes.

The RBPGL has studied landfills across the United States as part of the first national scale assessment of emerging contaminants in landfill leachate. Extensive investigations into biogeochemical processes controlling leachate migration have been conducted at the Norman, OK, closed landfill. Our objectives include providing a comprehensive characterization of emerging contaminants (ECs), geochemistry, and microorganisms in fresh leachate and in leachate being discharged off-site to wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), streams, and groundwater. Chemicals examined include poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), pharmaceuticals, hormones and related compounds. These characterizations help assess the potential importance of landfills as a source of contaminants, and the results of our studies will serve as a biological and chemical baseline for landfill leachate in the United States and will provide insight on the development of leachate plumes. Our studies also provide an understanding of the contribution of landfill-derived ECs being released to WWTPs, surface water, or groundwater. Because many landfills discharge to a WWTP, our results help determine whether the disposal of pharmaceuticals via the trash input ultimately results in a pathway to the environment. We have studied fresh leachate at 19 non-hazardous landfills across 16 states, representing a range of landfill sizes, ages, composition, geographic regions, and climates.