Washington State Approves Drone Use for Methane Emissions Monitoring in New Landfill Regulation

The Washington State Department of Ecology has introduced a new rule (Chapter 173-408 WAC) for monitoring methane emissions at active and closed municipal solid waste landfills. Effective January 1, 2025, this regulation allows for the use of drones, such as Sniffer Robotics’ SnifferDRONE, to conduct surface emissions monitoring (SEM), enhancing efficiency and safety.

The SnifferDRONE is an automation tool to precisely and accurately identify methane leak emissions and their sources over terrestrial bodies.

Key Features of the New Rule

  • SEM Requirements: Field technicians traditionally perform SEM inspections on foot, but the new rule permits drones to conduct these inspections. This method cuts inspection time by 50%, reduces labor costs, and minimizes technician exposure to hazards.
  • Technological Integration: The SnifferDRONE, utilizing U.S. EPA’s Other Test Method 51 (OTM-51), offers precise methane detection, improved data management, and professional reporting.

Industry Adoption and Environmental Impact

Early adopters in Washington began using the SnifferDRONE in 2023, recognizing its potential to enhance environmental protection and operational efficiency. This technology is expected to set a new standard for methane emissions monitoring, aligning with practices in California, Oregon, and Maryland.