Industrial Drone Approved for Washington Landfill Inspections

The SnifferDRONE™ performs inspections 50% faster and reduces technician's exposure to hazards, while improving the effectiveness of detecting methane emissions and the sources of land-based leaks By William Mackenzie / 22 May 2024
Drone Approved for Washington Landfill Inspections
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Sniffer Robotics’ SnifferDRONE™ has been authorized for use by the Washington State Department of Ecology, allowing the use of an inspection drone to perform landfill monitoring that would otherwise be performed manually. 

The SnifferDRONE™ unmanned aerial system (UAS) performs inspections 50% faster, reducing technician’s exposure to hazards while improving the effectiveness of detecting methane emissions and their leak sources. 

The US EPA was the first to approve the use of a UAS for this purpose as outlined in Other Test Method 51 (OTM-51).  Washington has integrated OTM-51, with modifications, in their new rule (Chapter 173-408 WAC). The method utilizes the UAS to provide confidence in inspection, via greater process control, data management, and professional reporting.    

Industry leaders in Washington began using the SnifferDRONE for landfill emission monitoring in 2023. Sniffer Robotics has congratulated early adopters for recognizing the opportunity to improve the environment and their operations.

New Washington Methane Emission Rules

In May 2024, the Washington State Department of Ecology announced a new methane emission rule (Chapter 173-408 WAC) for active and closed solid waste (MSW) landfills in their state. All affected landfills must meet the requirements starting January 1, 2025.

The detailed requirements will impact many aspects of landfill operations, with the latest announcement narrowly focused on new regulations specific to surface emissions monitoring (SEM). Washington’s new requirements mirror those of California, Oregon and Maryland, requiring: 

  • SEM inspection performed by a field technician traversing in a serpentine path with no more than 25-ft spacing between the inspection paths.
  • Instantaneous and integrated surface emissions reporting. 
  • SEM operations restricted to a maximum average and instantaneous wind speed and cannot be performed earlier than 72 hours after precipitation.

While the new rule will drive greater accountability for methane emissions, it will also lead to increased labor costs and technicians’ exposure to hazards by increasing their inspection time threefold.  

Washington has alleviated these concerns with the approval of the SnifferDRONE, which will offer a solution to these challenges by reducing hazards to technicians and improving inspection time.  

Sniffer Robotics state that the company looks forward to continuing its work in the state and beyond to improve the methods for detecting and accounting for landfill methane emissions.

Posted by William Mackenzie Connect & Contact
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