G. Fred Lee & Associates
27298 E. El Macero Drive
El Macero, California 95618-1005
ph (530) 753-9630 fx(530) 753-9956
This report is based on the authors' over 25 years of experience in evaluating groundwater and surface water contamination by sanitary landfills and information from the literature. It has been provided to many individuals knowledgeable in the area of solid and hazardous waste management for their review and comment. Appropriate changes have been made in the paper based on the comments received. The authors wish to thank all of those who provided comments. Hopefully, this report will help to develop an approach that will ultimately result in formulating a solution for the national solid waste management crisis that exists in the US today that will protect public health, ground and surface water quality, and the environment.
This original version of this report was formulated while the authors held positions at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey. At that time, Dr. Lee held the position of Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Jones held the position of Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
This report may be referenced as: Lee, G. F., and Jones, R. A., "Municipal Solid Waste Management: Long-Term Public Health and Environmental Protection," Workshop Lecture Notes, National Water Well Association National Outdoor Conference, Las Vegas, NV, May (1991).
This report presents information on the MSW characteristics and the state of knowledge on landfill containment system properties as of 1990. Since its development 15 years ago, considerable additional information has been developed on several of the topics presented in this report. Please consult Drs. G. Fred Lee and Anne Jones-Lee website,www.gfredlee.com for additional information on these topics. In particular is the report,
Lee, G. F. and Jones-Lee, A., \u201cFlawed Technology of Subtitle D Landfilling of Municipal Solid Waste,\u201d Report of G. Fred Lee & Associates, El Macero, CA, November (2004). http://www.members.aol.com/apple27298/SubtitleDFlawedTechnPap.pdf
Leachates from municipal and many industrial landfills contain a wide variety of chemical contaminants that can impair the use of groundwater for domestic water supply and many other purposes. In an effort to prevent groundwater pollution by landfill leachates, some state water quality management agencies and the US EPA have adopted regulations for "non- hazardous" landfills that require a combination of plastic sheeting membrane and compacted soil liners and caps to try to keep the buried wastes dry. This approach is based on the concept that as long as the wastes are dry, leachate will not be generated and groundwater quality deterioration will not occur. Requirements for leachate detection, collection, and removal systems are similarly being incorporated into the design of landfills to intercept leachate that may be generated. This "dry tomb" approach requires proper siting of landfills and their perpetual maintenance to protect groundwater quality.
This report includes discussion of the potential problems that sanitary and industrial "non-hazardous" landfills represent to groundwater quality, problems with the use of plastic sheeting and clay liners and caps for landfills, and areas in which many state and federal regulations covering postclosure maintenance of landfills could be improved. Specific guidance is provided on the approaches that water utilities and others should follow to protect groundwaters that are or could be used for domestic water supply purposes. Also, discussions are presented on the costs of more appropriate methods of municipal solid waste management that will protect public health, groundwater quality, and the environment.
Alternative approaches are suggested to the "dry tomb" approach involving fermentation/leaching to convert "non-hazardous" solid waste residues to materials that will not represent a significant threat to groundwater quality upon land burial.
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