John A. Baker, MSE

  • MSEE, Master of Science Environmental Engineering
  • B.S. Bachelor of Science in Biology/Chemistry

John Baker possesses over 40 years of experience involved in compliance, permitting, and evaluating environmental technologies for reducing methane emissions and subsurface migration, odor control, leachate treatment and groundwater impacts of landfills and contaminated properties. John previously served as Director of New Technology for Waste Management Inc. where he worked for 23 years developing innovative methods for environmental assessment, remediation, and proactive management, operation and design of active and closed landfills, developed and managed over 30 bioreactor landfill demonstrations working with both the Kentucky State and USEPA on a cooperative research basis.

Mr. Baker is a recognized expert in bioreactor landfills, waste density and compaction optimization, alternate landfill caps, landfill gas, groundwater quality, hydrogeology, innovative wastewater and leachate treatment, surface water quality management, landfill operational efficiencies, and alternative waste management technologies.  He has led numerous State and Federal workshops for groundwater monitoring and assessment techniques, bioreactors, and innovative technologies for landfill gas management, leachate, and groundwater remediation.

John’s wealth of experience spanning over 4 decades of environmental work in numerous capacities provides a level of expertise unmatched in the industry.  His innovative involvement in industry led to the development of countless methods for environmental assessment, remediation, and proactive management, operation, and design of active and closed landfills.  In collaboration with both State and Federal bodies, John was able to develop and manage 30 bioreactor landfill demonstrations.


Expert Witness

  • Expert testimony before the IL Pollution Control Board regarding peer review of IEPA’s proposed leachate and groundwater model for proposed landfill regulations.
  • Expert testimony before the Illinois State Legislation on proposed regulations for on-site industrial waste landfills for groundwater and gas/vapor contaminant protection and surface water contamination protection.
  • Expert witness for brownfield developer for peer review of their engineering consultant’s investigations of landfill gas on landfill closed in 1978; peer review of consultant’s design, installation and operation of an active landfill gas control system; peer review of consultant’s investigation for off-site gas migration. Resulted in favorable settlement for brownfield developer from consulting firm.
  • Expert witness and chief investigator for groundwater, surface water and gas/vapor contaminant source identification for litigation support for WM vs. City of Antioch $600 million lawsuit regarding alleged contamination of the City’s public water supply well.  
  • Expert witness and chief investigator for contaminant source identification for WM vs. confidential developer regarding landfill expansion permit and groundwater and surface water contamination before the Florida State Department of Environmental Quality Judicial Hearings.
  • Expert testimony and chief investigator for groundwater, surface water and gas/vapor contaminant source identification for WM vs. County of Hillsborough, FL regarding County’s Superfund site and WM’s landfill.
  • Expert witness for used oil trucking company defending allegations of PCB contamination.
  • Expert witness consulting support for landfill odor case
  • Expert witness for landfill leachate allegations of adverse effects on public drinking water system
  • Expert witness for GeoLogic Computer Systems, Inc. vs. Caterpillar , Inc. regarding landfill compaction optimization and GPS equipment dispute. 
  • Expert witness for Joyce Engineering firm sued by Campbell County, VA, and Developer for private well contamination- proved there were no leachate impacts to groundwater and fault was County’s landfill gas developer allowing off-site migration that contaminated groundwater. Recommended landfill gas management techniques to control gas migration.
  • Expert court testimony for Grandview Building Supply vs. OEPA regarding C&D landfill contamination/removal order.
  • Expert testimony and petition before the Illinois Pollution Control Board for Veolia Environmental- petition IEPA for environmental rule change for liquids in landfills.
  • Expert testimony and chief investigator for DNAPL source investigation for Veolia Environmental vs. WDNR.
  • Expert witness for Energex – an Australia utility for evaluation of their landfill leachate and gas extraction system performance and design and forensic evaluation of methane sources in adjoining subdivision- demonstrated that Energex landfill gas system was not at fault.
  • Expert testimony for International insurance companies to evaluate High BTU LFG plant business disruption due to heating event in landfill.
  •  Expert testimony for numerous public hearings regarding proposed environmental regulations; guidance documents, policy for waste disposal, wastewater, and waste management at the State and Federal level.

Waste to Energy-Conversion Technologies

  • Evaluation and Review of Conversion Technologies for Solid and Hazardous Waste.  Many states and public agencies desire alternative methods of disposing, treating, and converting waste to energy without incineration.   Over 100 vendors of pyrolysis, gasification, plasma arc, and other treatment technologies have been evaluated for private and public concerns over the last 10 years.  Some have been commercialized and found viable but 90 % of the vendors have not achieved commercialization.  AE recently provided a detailed review of numerous conversion technology companies for a confidential client. 
  • Technical Oversight and Permitting for 3 New Gasification Technologies- AE is involved in consulting for 3 companies that were demonstrating an innovative gasification technology for unprocessed solid waste.  Three pilot plants were sited and test runs were evaluated.
  • Technical Review and Evaluation of New 1,000 TPD Plasma Gasification Process for MSW to Energy—On behalf of the Word Bank, a development plan to excavate or mine a landfill to mix with new MSW was reviewed for a developing country.  The gasification technology involved plasma gasification, treating the syngas for electrical power generators.
  • Technical Oversite and Permitting for Modular Plasma Arc WTE- AE provided technical and permitting support for siting a commercial scale demonstration plant for processing MSW to syngas to fuel a CAT gen-set
  • Autoclaving of MSW and Conversion of Waste Plastics to Diesel and Chemicals of Higher Value.  Evaluation of commercial process to autoclave MSW, separate organics for RDF sale or conversion to renewable energy.  Waste plastics separated to convert to ASTM quality Diesel and liquid solvents and chemicals for investor group.
  • Permitting and Pilot Testing of Plasma Arc Incinerator- Assisted in permitting a pilot plasma arc system and evaluated test results at a hazardous waste site in New York.
  • Evaluation of Pilot Bioreactor for Methane to Liquid Fuels.  Evaluation of Biotechnology company that converts methane with engineered microbes to produce isobutane and farsene (drop in transport 3ation fuels).
  • Evaluation of Sewage Digester Sludge Optimization for Optimization of Biogas and Conversion to Liquid Fertilizers.  Evaluated process to micronize sludge, recirculation back to digester reducing sludge volume by 80+%, 50% increase in biogas and harvesting of liquid fertilizers
  • Evaluation of Waste to Liquid Fuels and Chemicals—Provide technology and economic feasibility of various MSW and Wood to transportation fuels and chemicals for a Structured Finance Company and Renewable Energy Developer.  5 pyrolysis and two gasification technologies are under review. Three MSW automated sorting and feedstock pre-treatment systems also are under review and evaluation.


  • Landfill Settlement and Density Optimization.  Landfill air space methods of measurement and settlement trends were studied by evaluating landfill operational methods of compaction and climatic conditions.  Evaluated various GPS systems installed on compaction equipment for landfill density improvements and operator training for improving compaction techniques.  Lift slope, waste thickness, landfill gas production and moisture were important factors in waste density improvements
  • Conceptual Design and Performance Monitoring of Innovative Gas Collection Systems.  Provided conceptual design and field monitoring to demonstrate effectiveness of innovative vertical and horizontal gas collection systems that can function in wet (or bioreactor) landfills.  Systems were proven to be equal to or more effective than conventional gas collection systems and can withstand substantial settlement and moisture conditions in the landfill.
  • Evaluation of “Landfill Fires”.  Evaluated quality of gas and leachate to determine cause and origin of subsurface heating events and proved there was a thermal chemical interaction from receipt of special metallic wastes.  Demonstrated that there were no “fires” as event was pyrolysis
  • Developed Organic Fingerprinting for Evaluating Landfill and Gas Impacts-  Demonstrated usefulness of organic “fingerprinting” for tracing VOC impacts from leachate at numerous solid, hazardous, and Superfund landfills.  Technique was also used to determine location of source if on-site or determine if source is from off-site location.
  • Field Investigations of Landfill Gas Migration for over 30 Landfills- Findings showed methane gas probes if screened in groundwater can give false positive readings due to dissolved methane in groundwater diffusing into the gas probe with no methane in the vadose zone.  Conceptual design for landfill gas controls to remediate methane migration and optimize methane gas collection.
  • Participated in over 30 Bioreactor Landfill Demonstrations- Helped permit and develop conceptual design, operation, and monitoring of more than 30 bioreactor landfills, most notably in Louisville, Kentucky.  Demonstrations are to provide data to USEPA to justify regulatory changes to encourage this technology.  Showed that bioreactors generate greater quantities of landfill gas with higher methane content.  Also demonstrated how to control gas and odors during the operation compared to post-closure, improve leachate quality by in-situ treatment within the landfill, increase airspace by accelerating settlement and waste density, show that a RCRA cap is not necessary after closure, and post-closure care should be reduced to 10 years or less.  The following are a list of significant bioreactor and leachate recirculation sites:
  • Evergreen Landfill, OH- first leachate recirculation demonstration using horizontal permeable blanket and one injection pipe.  2 acre area injected 500,000 gallons/year for 7 years without any seeps or problems.  Degraded waste sampled to depth of just above liner
  • Live Oak Landfill, GA- Researched and funded 3 acre pilot aerobic landfill bioreactor.  Degraded waste in 9 months to compost like quality, acceptable to States compost standards for off-site use.  Scaled up later to 10 acre site.
  • L&D Superfund Landfill-  Funded and conceptually designed experimental bench scale and full scale method of aerobically treating groundwater plume by injecting back into aerobic landfill
  • Spruce Ridge Landfill-MN- Funded and provided technical oversight of leachate recirculation project that had control cell.  Comprehensive data on gas quality and quantity, leachate quantity and quality, settlement, cover dynamics, geophysics, and waste analyses with depth collected over 5 year period.
  • Mid-Peninsula Landfill, VA- Funded and monitored leachate quality, quantity, gas production, and alternate recirculation methods.  Data collection on density and settlement of landfill using GPS equipped compaction equipment.
  • Atlantic Landfill, VA- Funded and monitored leachate quality, quantity, gas production, alternate recirculation methods, settlement, density, and affects of sludge addition. 
  • High Acres Landfill, NY- Funded and technical oversight of design, operation, and data collection on leachate quantity, quality, gas production and settlement.  Next step is liquids addition pending RD&D rule promulgation.
  • DSWA Sandtown LF, DE-  Funded and directed study on summarizing 20 years historical data for leachate quality, quantity, water balance, settlement, density, gas production at the only site known to have this much historical data.  Also funded study on 2 small test cells measuring same parameters comparing bioreactor to control.
  • Northern Oaks, LF- Funded geotechnical instruments to measure in-situ settlement, density, stability, strain, and stress of waste.  Served as technical advisor to MSU who collected data on leachate quality, quantity, gas quality and quantity, and degradation.  Conceptual design and operation of facility.
  • Metro Landfill, WI-  Funded project, participated in conceptual design, assisted in permitting, operational review, and data collection for settlement, density, gas production, leachate quantity and quality.  Helped gain acceptance for liquid biosolids as research project with EPA Reg. V.
  • Outer Loop Landfill, KY- Funded initial project, assisted in EPA and KY acceptance and CRDA, technical advisor on conceptual design and operation.
  • Burlington County Landfill, NJ- Funded project, technical advisor to county on design, operation, data collection for waste characterization, gas production, leachate quality and quantity, settlement, and density.
  • GROWS Landfill, NJ- Funded project collaborated with Geosynthetic Research Institute for monitoring of liner and within waste for temperature, leachate, and gas quality.  Leachate quantity and density measured.
  • Central Disposal, IA- Funded and involved in conceptual design of bioreactor, innovative gas collection, leachate quality, quantity, gas quantity, quality, density and settlement.
  • McGill Landfill, MI- Funded and involved in conceptual design of innovative method of leachate injection using horizontal blankets of 3 different materials-tire chips, glass cullet, and geonet.  Results show more efficient and cheaper than horizontal trenches.  Settlement and gas production being measured.
  • City of Dallas, TX- Selected as Consultant to City of Dallas McCombis Landfill to assist in planning, design, and permitting as bioreactor landfill to increase gas generation, airspace, leachate recirculation, and alternate cap.  Developed outline for evaluating geotechnical model for bioreactor slope stability and peer reviewed the geotechnical report.
  • City of Denton, TX- Selected as consultant to City of Denton’s landfill to assist in design, operation, and permitting of a bioreactor landfill for airspace, gas/energy generation, POTW biosolids management, and alternate cap.  GPS equipped compaction equipment was used for tracking waste compaction.
  • Orchard Hills Landfill, IL- Prepared initial evaluation if existing infrastructure, gas and leachate management systems for RDD application for IEPA.  Provided sources of commercial/industrial liquid wastes that would be compatible with bioreactor operations in a 100 mile radius from the landfill.
  • Confidential Landfill:  Evaluate settlement, density, waste composition (15-20% biosolids by weight) leachate quality and quantity, waste density as measured by GPS equipped compaction equipment and gas production data Project objective was to determine if leachate recirculation practices resulted in characteristics of landfill acting as a bioreactor.
  • Advisor:  Florida Solid and Hazardous Waste Research Center-advised New River aerobic bioreactor committee, Yolo County Bioreactor demonstration project, Swana Bioreactor  committee (leader of maintaining bioreactor list of projects), Swana Research committee, Minnesota landfill operators group.
  • Peer Review Bioreactor Permit Application- Countryside LF, IL
  • Prepare RD&D Permit Applications for 6 Illinois Landfills- River Bend Prairie LF, Livingston LF, and Lee County LF, Countryside, Orchard Hills and SIRL.
  • Develop Comments to Illinois Pollution Control Board to Assist IEPA in Promulgation of RD&D Regulations- On behalf of Onyx Waste Services, provided substantial comments to the Pollution Control Board to streamline permit process for obtaining a Research, Development & Demonstration permit.  IPCB responded favorably to all comments and recommended changes.
  • Hydrogeological Investigation / Hazardous, solid waste, low-level rad-waste, and Superfund landfills / North America. Directed and performed numerous hydrogeologic investigation and subsurface exploration of over 250 existing and proposed landfill sites in North America. These projects involved interpretation of complex hydrogeological environments involving multiple aquifers, preparation of permit applications, coordination of project team in field and office, and negotiation with regulatory agencies. Projects ranged from green field sites to groundwater assessments at sites identified to be impacting the environment from landfills and wastewater lagoons/ponds.   Sites have been located in a wide variety of geologic and hydrogeologic environments across the continent.  Methods were developed combining hydrogeologic data with geochemical, geomorphology, and environmental isotopes to confirm hydrogeologic gradients, interconnection of aquifers, and flow paths
  • Feasibility and Siting Studies / Hazardous and Solid Waste Sites.  Siting studies and regulatory reviews for numerous proposed hazardous and solid waste disposal sites, including international, North America, and local searches, published data reviews, and preliminary subsurface investigations.  Several locations were successfully permitted as “Greenfield” landfills. 
  • Peer review of hazardous and solid waste landfill design and operating plans.  Involved as expert to evaluate landfill design and operations for siting review by public agencies as well as peer review for double lined sites that have leaked into the environment.  A hazardous waste landfill, although was triple lined, found flaws in leachate collection systems.  Several solid waste sites, double lined, also had leakage due to gravity leachate collection systems and liner pipe penetrations.
  • Manage Hydrogeologic and Contaminated Groundwater and Surface Water Quality Study for Midwest Generation- Supervised field, groundwater quality evaluations/assessments and modeling of contaminants for remedial options for coal ash quarry landfill.  Supported legal options for potential lawsuits and for filing potential lawsuit.  No off-site contamination to water supplies were determined.
  • Groundwater Monitoring / North America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and South America Prepared corporate guidelines for groundwater and surface water quality monitoring plans for over 200 RCRA Subtitle C and D sites and 200 closed/Superfund sites.  Developed corporate standards for groundwater monitoring well design, construction and installation, sampling, analyses, and reporting.
  • Demonstrate Innovative Leachate Treatment with Wetlands and Phytocaps- Assisted with demonstration of suitability of constructed wetlands to treat leachate and evaluated impacts of percolation treatment lagoons/ponds.   Evaluation of new vertical wetlands for cost-savings and reduction of surface area requirements compared to standard wetlands.  Vertical wetlands being demonstrated at several landfills, including for treatment of contaminated groundwater at remedial and superfund sites.  Also demonstrating treating leachate from closed landfill by spray irrigating and injecting in planned phytocap.  Plant species are being evaluated for uptake rates, etc.
  • Database Management and Statistical Evaluation of Data –Assisted in development of WM’s groundwater analytical electronic data base, one of the largest environmental databases in the world.  The statistical evaluation of groundwater and surface water quality monitoring data was automated and provided remotely to numerous sites in North America.  Petitioned USEPA to change statistical regulations for RCRA C and D to accept use of intra-well comparisons as well as prediction limits reducing the false positive rates of failure.
  • Alternate Landfill Caps/Covers- Demonstrated that installation of low permeability cap for Superfund and closed sites with groundwater contamination diverting moisture from bacteria.  Sites have seen clean-up to standards over last 10 years and plumes have retreated.  Supported USEPA’s ACAP program at 2 landfills where alternate ET caps have been constructed and monitored for flux through cap.  Selected as contractor to assist Fluor-Hanford DOE site in conceptual design of ET caps and to negotiate regulator approval.  Subtitle D (RCRA) caps were compared and showed ET caps are equivalent.  Three sites permitted based on demonstration.  Supported other alternate cap programs using models that demonstrated the suitability of ET caps.  Assisted in 2 poplar tree cap acceptance at one closed site and one Superfund site instead of RCRA cap.
  • Demonstration of Fugitive Emissions Through Interim and Alternate Cover-   Through monitoring of flux on the soil and compost covers at 3 landfills (one was Outer Loop Bioreactor, KY) demonstrated that methane gas and VOCs are oxidized in the landfill cover.  Methanotrophic bacteria are responsible for these conditions.  Helps with odor emissions as well.
  • Evaluation of RCRA Cap Affects on Groundwater Quality from Landfill Gas- Developed field and geochemical and isotopic techniques to demonstrate that VOCs in landfill gas can affect groundwater quality.  Provided remedies to extract gas from vadose zone and perimeter of landfill to eliminate the problem.  Showed geochemical affects as well due to creation of anaerobic conditions and dissolution of CO2 from landfill gas.  This problem was assessed at over 60 landfills that had Subtitle D liners over old unlined sites and installation of RCRA caps on partially lined and unlined landfills.  Problems with VOC impacts to groundwater occurred within months of capping.
  • Develop Comments to Illinois Pollution Control Board to Assist IEPA in Promulgation of RD&D Regulations- On behalf of Onyx Waste Services, provided substantial comments to the Pollution Control Board to streamline permit process for obtaining a Research, Development & Demonstration permit.  IPCB responded favorably to all comments and recommended changes.
  • Developed Organic Fingerprinting for Evaluating Landfill and Gas Impacts-  Demonstrated usefulness of organic “fingerprinting” for tracing VOC impacts from leachate at numerous solid, hazardous, and Superfund landfills.  Technique was also used to determine location of source if on-site or determine if source is from off-site location.
  • Research on Leachate Quality Changes After Landfill & Wastewater Lagoon/Pond Closure- Evaluate leachate quality and quantity over time from 60 landfills in different climatic regimes to demonstrate degradation cycle of landfill.  Grant from Environmental Industry Association research foundation obtained and results shared with USEPA.  Data will help determine post-closure care periods. 
  • Develop Guidance on Determining End of Post Closure Care for Subtitle D Landfills- Through another research grant, developed conceptual model of determining when there is no longer a risk to the environment or human health for the four major components of post-closure care.  The four components are leachate management, groundwater monitoring, gas monitoring, and cap maintenance.  Data are showing that risk-based approach is useful and that many landfills are safe well before 30 years of mandatory post-closure care.
  • Demonstration for Ending Post Closure Care for Pre-Subtitle D Landfills and Superfund Sites-  Long term monitoring data for leachate, gas, settlement, waste analyses, groundwater, and gas probe monitoring for 2 landfills, (one is a Superfund site) are no longer a risk to the environment . Degradation cycles followed a first-order bio-decay process.  Report submitted to States and EPA (for delisting of Superfund status) based on modeling potential impacts to groundwater and surface water.  Decisions pending.  Assisted with two other pre-subtitle D landfills where post-closure care was approved to be reduced by 90%.
  • Developed Data to Support Monitored Natural Attenuation Instead of Pump and Treatment of Contaminated Groundwater-  Several Superfund sites were shown to have naturally degraded the organics in the previous plume.  Through isotopes and geochemical analyses, demonstrated that in-situ degradation was occurring and plume was shrinking.  One site was allowed to eliminate existing pump and treatment system. 
  • Manage Consortium of Hydrogeologic Consultants for Major Utility Company-  Responsible for the technical direction and peer review of major hydrogeologic, groundwater quality assessment, and corrective action that may lead to potential litigation for a major Midwest utility.
  • Used Innovative Groundwater Treatment Remedies- Used 0 valent iron filings in lab and field to show de-halogenation of VOCs.  Demonstration using glucose and yeast to change geochemistry and enhance natural biodegradation of VOCs at hazardous waste remedial site.  Superfund landfill feasibility study and initial design approved for utilizing landfill as bioreactor to clean up groundwater plume.  Contaminated groundwater will be injected back into the landfill and aerobically or anaerobically degrade VOCs by operating closed landfill as a bioreactor. 


Mr. Baker has conducted numerous workshops with 35 States and USEPA providing Training for Subtitle D groundwater monitoring programs, bioreactor landfill programs, and groundwater fingerprinting assessments. 

Mr. Baker is an invited speaker for numerous environmental conferences for SWANA, Waste Tech, USEPA, International Phytoremediation, Association of Environmental Engineers, ASCE, and other national and international associations.  Recently he was invited speaker for the National RCRA conference discussing post-closure care leachate characterization.  Phytocaps were advocated at this conference by public solid waste agencies in agreement with his recommendations.


  • National Ground Water Association
  • Interstate Technology Research Cooperative- Initiated Alternate Landfill Technology Team to develop guidance document on alternate landfill caps, Bioreactor Guidance, Termination Post-Closure Care
  • SWANA bioreactor committee and applied research foundation.
  • EIA advisory board
  • Governor’s Groundwater Advisory Board-Illinois
  • Advisor to Drinking Water Program-Florida
  • Advisor to Hawaii DOH-Solid Waste Landfill Monitoring and groundwater protection
  • Advisor to Florida Hazardous and Solid Waste Consortium
  • Contributing Editor -Environmental Geology