UASBLandfill Fundamentals



Landfill Fundamentals

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     Because landfills carry a high risk degree from improper waste disposal, and associated environmental destruction, there are several items of concern when designing landfills.

     One of the most sensitive aspects concerns polluting surrounding water bodies, be them surface waters or groundwaters.  Because it is very difficult and costly to carry out remediation to underground waters it is of prime importance NOT to experience the problem in the first place.  While surface water pollution is not desirable either, at least it may be treatable.  Thus, groundwater quality and wetland/stream protection is essential to the design and operation of landfills, the former mostly because it frequently involves a water supply system; the latter because of the destructive impact on the aquatic environment.

     Uncontrolled gas migration  which could give rise to nasty accidents can be a major concern.  Because landfill gas is a combination of methane and CO2, when confined, their sudden mix with air may give rise to explosions (i.e. over 5% methane content).  Gas concentrations, especially in confined spaces may be fatal (asphyxia).  Therefore, adequate means to control gas migration must be in place.  There's also the greenhouse categorization which places an additional emphasis on installing proper gas handling equipment.

     Proper maintenance of nearby air quality includes a number of issues ranging from odors to blowing bags to fugitive dust.  Proper measures may include vegetation, fencing and ponding avoidance.

     Because of catastrophic consequence potentials, slope stability is also a major concern as landfill size and heights become larger and larger.. 

      Vector control is also related to environmental concerns and belongs to successful landfill design and operation.


     Prospective locations of successful landfill development must add up a number of favorable characteristics.

     Proposed place will score high as regards zoning regulations as well as current and planned land use criteria.  Judicious selection will take into account things like urban sprawl, traffic, special zoning regulations (e.g. stay away from airports), undesirable proximity or destruction of animal habitats, unique landscapes, wildlife reserves, historical and/or archeological sites.

     Proposed location will be easily accessible by solid waste vehicles under all weather conditions.  Wet weather does not mean MSW is not being generated and thereby the need to insure that the solids disposal system keeps up no matter what.  Hauling distance must be appropriate as well. 

     Proposed installation safely protects both surface and groundwater.  While some locations may offer better contexts, e.g. clay, silt areas, ALL landfills should take measures, say by way of liners, drains and wwtp to make sure water qualities are maintained.

     Landfills should properly manage landfill gas and, as feasible, give rise to waste-to-energy opportunities (vs plain flaring).

     The ideal site will have access to easily handled (and compacted!) earth cover materials so as to avoid having to employ geomembranes and/or borrow/haul stuff (soil) from elsewhere.

     Location should be so that the landfill's operation will not interfere or degrade surrounding areas like environmentally sensitive areas, residential areas (increased heavy traffic, odors, health problems), airports (birds), among others.

     Landfill sites should have enough area and internal capacity to accommodate a generous buffer zone as well as future expansion.





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