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Available online at www.sciencedirect.


Waste Management 28 (2008) 952964

Risk assessment of landll disposal sites State of the art

Talib E. Butt


, Elaine Lockley b, Kehinde O.K. Oduyemi


The Sustainability Centre in Glasgow (SCG), George Moore Building, 70 Cowcaddens Road,
Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow G4 0BA, Scotland, UK
Be Environmental Ltd. Suite 213, Lomeshaye Business Village, Turner Road, Nelson, Lancashire, BB9 7DR, England, UK
Built and Natural Environment, Baxter Building, University of Abertay Dundee, Bell Street, Dundee DD1 1HG, Scotland, UK
Accepted 17 May 2007
Available online 30 October 2007

A risk assessment process can assist in drawing a cost-eective compromise between economic and environmental costs, thereby
assuring that the philosophy of sustainable development is adhered to. Nowadays risk analysis is in wide use to eectively manage environmental issues. Risk assessment is also applied to other subjects including health and safety, food, nance, ecology and epidemiology.
The literature review of environmental risk assessments in general and risk assessment approaches particularly regarding landll disposal
sites undertaken by the authors, reveals that an integrated risk assessment methodology for landll gas, leachate or degraded waste does
not exist. A range of knowledge gaps is discovered in the literature reviewed to date. From the perspective of landll leachate, this paper
identies the extent to which various risk analysis aspects are absent in the existing approaches.
2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
Sustainable waste management simply means managing
waste by prioritising as per the waste hierarchy (DoE, 1995;
DETR, 2000). This implies waste reduction is the topmost
priority if possible. The other priorities in descending order
are reuse; recovery via recycling, composting, and energy;
and disposal which also includes landlling. Most of the
waste produced, particularly in the UK (DETR, 2000a),
is generally disposed to landlls. Waste disposal to landlls, in general, is an easy and low-cost waste management
option but it does raise environmental concerns. During
the process of waste degradation, landlls produce waste
products in three phases (Fig. 1). These are solid (i.e.,
degraded waste); liquid (i.e., leachate, which is water polluted with wastes); and gas (usually referred to as landll

Further, landlls and their aforesaid waste products

may pollute the three principal environmental media
the atmosphere, the lithosphere and the hydrosphere
(Fig. 2). Such pollution will be transmitted through these
media and will have an impact, either directly or indirectly,
upon human, the natural environment (including aquatic
and terrestrial ora and fauna) and the built environment.
This highly necessitates that hazards and risks of landlls
be assessed and managed to guard the environment and
its species from landll hazards.
Public concerns and awareness regarding environmental
protection have grown world-wide. This is also reected in
the development of environmental legislation in dierent
countries. For instance, the UK legislation has been
increasingly addressing and guiding sustainable environmental management in all areas, through a series of
regulations. In line with this, environmental issues and
environmental law have increasingly followed a global
theme. Examples of such legislation are:

Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 0141 331 8629; fax: +44 0141 331
E-mail addresses: (T.E. Butt), k.oduyemi@ (K.O.K. Oduyemi).
Tel.: +44 1382 308126; fax: +44 1382 308261.
0956-053X/$ - see front matter 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

 EC Directive on Groundwater (EC, 1980);

 EU Directive on Integrated Pollution Control and Prevention (IPPC) (EU, 1996);

T.E. Butt et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 952964

(Unstable) Waste


(Degraded) Waste






Fig. 3. Relationship between risk assessment and risk reduction.

Fig. 1. Inputs and outputs of a landll degradation process.


as a
Pollutant Source

(Soil / land)


Fig. 2. Three principal environmental media and fundamental pathways

for (landll) hazards to travel through (source: Moriarty, 1993 adapted by
the authors).

 EC Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment

(EIA) (EC, 1985);
 Waste Management Licensing Regulations (SI, 1994,
 Environmental Protection Act (1990);
 Environment Act (1995);
 Water Framework Directive (EC, 2000);
 Landll Directive (EC, 1999);
 EU Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats
and of Wild Fauna and Flora (the Habitats Directive)
The realisation of the signicance and eectiveness of
risk assessment or analysis (abbreviated as RA in this
paper) in environmental management has also reached
the environmental legislation. That is why the legislation
has started to impose risk assessment as a tool for meeting
legal requirements associated with waste hazards (Environment Agency, 1999, 2003a). This trend is being followed in
various countries around the world. The UK is mentioned
as an example as follows. For instance, for the protection
of groundwater from landll leachate, a risk assessment
requirement has been legislatively introduced in the UK
since 1st May 1994, through Regulation 15 of the Waste
Management Licensing Regulations (SI, 1994) and the
Groundwater Regulations (SI, 1998). The Landll Directive (EC, 1999) is implemented in England and Wales
through the Landll Regulations (SI, 2002), made under
the Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) Act (England
and Wales) 1999. Similarly, the advent of the Water
Framework Directive (EC, 2000), which will be transposed
into UK legislation in near future, pushes boundaries of

protection of environmental receptors beyond just groundwater to surface waters and dependent ecological systems.
That means a much more integrated approach. The Habitat Directive brings legal obligation to combat hazards in
order to guard and enhance natural habitats and wild
fauna and ora (EC, 1992). It can be deduced from all of
these legislative instruments that the out of mind concept
regarding wastes is no longer applicable. To achieve maximum protection of the environment against the hazards
associated with landll sites, all potential hazards must
be identied and risks associated with them assessed.
Therefore, risk assessment is increasingly being applied to
landll sites, at the planned, operational or completed
stage (Environment Agency, 2003a; Kent County Council,
undated). Risk assessment is a vital tool for environmental
risk control or reduction as the output of the former can
guide practices to improve risk management (Fig. 3). Thus,
the degree of eectiveness of the risk control or reduction is
highly dependent on the information derived from the risk
2. Current risk assessment approaches
Risk assessment is a continually developing evaluation
tool. This is not just in relation to landlls and other environmental issues but also in relation to other subjects and
business elds including, the food industry, ecology, epidemiology, health physics, radiation, earthquakes, nance,
construction management, building contract selection,
insurance, economics, oil industry, business, regulatory
systems, clinical governance and hospitals (IoD, 2003;
Brebbia, 2000; Scott and Stone, 2004; CIWEM, 1999;
DETR, 2000a,b; Carter and Smith, 2001; Thomas, 1998;
Mitchell, 1998; WHO, 1997; Rejda, 1995; HSE, 2003,
1998; Tweeds, 1996; LaGoy, 1994; EPA, 1992; CHEM
Unit, 2003). However, literature on risk assessment that
is related to environmental issues and specically regarding
landlls has been the main focus of the review in this paper.
This includes Environment Agency (2004), CIRIA (2001),
DETR (2000a,b), Redfearn et al. (2000), Gregory et al.
(1999), Eduljee (1998), Butt and Oduyemi (2000, 2003)
and more mentioned in Table 1. Regardless of the type
of risk assessment and the environmental area of application, the basic theme or fundamentals are the same. That
is, there has to be a target/environmental receptor that
may be aected by a hazard or unwanted event via a pathway. Similarly, there are three ways to control risks, which
are: remove the hazards source, remove the hazards receptors, or manipulate the pathways between the source and
receptors. For any of these ways, the information is to
come from a risk analysis exercise.


Table 1
Literature review examples: discussion on elements of landll risk assessment (RA) present and absent

Elements present

Elements absent

T.E. Butt et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 952964

Golder Associates (2002) This publication regards risk assessment From the term elements absent the authors imply knowledge gaps and limitations of research works carried out to date:
1. The publication is not to present a total risk analysis (RA) methodology that contains the features and the modules with their
only for small and closed landlls. It
sub-modules (listed below) integrated together in an algorithmic, ready-to-use, sequentially linked, categorical, user-friendly
briey mentions hazards and risks in the
format, continual and step-by-step, which a user could holistically follow from start to end in a self-guiding fashion
context of contamination of groundwater;
2. A detailed baseline study system, which could assist a risk assessor to identify and categorise all landll site characteristics that
contamination of surface water; gas
are needed in dierent stages of the risk assessment process, is not in the remit of this publication. Examples are:
accumulation and; direct exposure to
 Geology: top soil, drift, rock, porosity, eective porosity, ssures, density, geological materials and minerals, depth and
contaminated soil, sharp objects or
width or volume of the geological materials, and other geological properties
hazardous gases. These are the only four
 Hydrology: evaporation, transpiration, interception, (surface) runo, inltration, percolation, groundwater ingress, etc.
scenarios, which this publication
 Hydrogeology: vadose/unsaturated and phreatic/saturated zones, perched groundwater, hydraulic gradient, permeability,
addresses very briey
groundwater speed and direction, and other hydro-geological properties
 Topography: landforms/inclinations (to assist in measuring runo to or from a given landll), natural environment, habitats, built environment, water-courses, etc.
 Geography: latitudes, longitudes, geographic zones, e.g., tropical and other geographic properties that can also help in estimating other baseline study parameters such as expected rainfall
 Meteorology: precipitation (duration, frequency, intensity), wind speed and direction, wet and dry bulb temperatures,
humidity, degree of sun and cloudiness, etc.
 Human inuences: past, present and/or future potential anthropogenic activities such as quarrying, water abstractions, construction and development
 Site management: site history, site type, site location, site design and engineering (e.g., liners, drainage system), waste management activities, environmental monitoring, waste types
3. It is not in the scope of this publication to develop a procedure for hazard identication and categorisation to assist a risk
assessor to group hazards in categories such as toxic, non-toxic, carcinogenic, non-carcinogenic, hazards due to settings/layout
and/or processes, leachate quantication, leachate qualities (such as maturity, age, hardness), etc.
4. Does not oer approaches to categorise and establish concentration levels for various pollutants both temporally and spatially.
For instance, concentration levels at a landll (the pollutant source), exposure medium, receptor intake concentration, thresholds or safety levels, background or existing concentration in a given receptor before leachate reaches
5. There is no strategic procedure to carry out exposure assessment process in a quantitative manner for landll leachate, which
could take account of all possible scenarios. There is lack of in-depth algorithmic exposure quantication system that sequentially ties together the factors involved such as exposure duration, frequency, exposure media and routes
6. Signicance assessment of all characteristics and parameters of the modules and sub-modules of the risk assessment. For
instance, is the amount of interception and/or liquid waste for a given landll signicant enough to consider in leachate quantity measurement; what conservative measures are taken for what parameters and why; etc.
7. Uncertainty assessment of all characteristics and parameters of the modules and sub-modules of the risk assessment. Where
these uncertainties could be due to models limitations; estimations methods; data quality; etc.
8. Migration assessment of pollutants in the form of categorical and sequential procedure is not present. This should include
features of both pollutants transport phenomena (such as dispersion, advection, retardation) and attenuation phenomena
(such as dilution, absorption, adsorption, cation exchange reactions)
9. No details on Hazard Indices (HI) specically in the context of landll leachate whereas HI is a very important quantitative
indicator of risk levels and therefore a signicant feature of quantitative risk assessment
10. There is no strategic procedure of risk quantication/estimation in which a risk assessor could consider all leachate hazards via
all possible pathways for all possible receptors in an integrated fashion to work out total risk as well as individual risks on the
basis of one hazard via one pathway for one receptor
11. There is no evidence of consideration given to work out worst case and most likely risk scenarios
(continued on next page)

Table 1 (continued)

Elements present

Elements absent

Provides guideline for risk assessment of

landll leachate. Hazards are considered
from the perceptive of groundwater as a
receptor/target. In the form of a ow
chart diagram of risk assessment process,
some elements such as hazard
identication, risk estimation and critical/
threshold concentrations are mentioned.
Some modules of the BS such as geology
and hydrogeology are also included

CIRIA (2001)

This publication is only for closed landll

sites. Both hazards and risks together are
divided into three types namely, physical,
chemical/bio-chemical and physicochemical. Thus, does not dierentiate
between hazard and risk for the above
categorisation. Some aspects of some RA
modules (such as hazard identication,
concentration assessment, exposure
analysis) are addressed to an extent
This publication is for risk assessment of Landll leachate is not included in this publication. Thus, the elements (116 above) are completely absent from landll leachate
landll gas only. Touches on a range of perspective
risk assessment modules such as gas
generation, human exposure
All of the elements from 1 to 16 above are absent in the context of landll leachate
This publication, which is a paper, is
related to risk analysis for landll gas.
Regards modules such as exposure
assessment, toxicity assessment and risk

Gregory et al. (1999)

Redfearn et al. (2000)

Line missing


Environment Agency

T.E. Butt et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 952964

12. A given landll can be at pre-operation stage (i.e., design and development phase), in-operation stage and/or post-operation
stage (i.e., completed and post closure phase). The issue of each of the three landll stages, which a given landll could be in, is
not discussed
13. For risk assessment to be quantitative, all relevant parameters of the modules and sub-modules need to be quantied. The
more the objective measurement of such parameters the more successful quantication of the risk will be. The publication does
not seem to be able to touch on quantitative aspects of various risk assessment parameters
14. There is lack of aggregation facility in the modules and sub-modules of the risk assessment. For instance, if a living receptor
such as a human receives pollutant via dermal contact as well as ingestion. So the total concentration entering the humans
body would be the sum of the concentrations via these two individual exposure routes
15. There seems to be lack of consideration of temporal and spatial variations of various parameters of risk analysis modules and
sub-modules. For instance, temporal variation of leachate quality that is in terms of becoming mature over time or aging; spatial variation in unsaturated/vadose zone underneath a given landll in order to gure out eective vadose thickness; etc.
16. Lack of employment of statistical descriptions particularly in the context of maximum, minimum and most likely values of
various parameters (e.g., precipitation, concentration of pollutant reaching receptors, exposure duration). Such statistical
descriptions can be helpful to gure out worst case and most likely risk scenarios as well as address uncertainties and temporal
and spatial variations
17. The publication is not for large landlls. It is not for pre-operation and in-operation stages either
In the context of holisticness, the authors nd this publication to be closest to a more strategic, sequential and integrated RA
framework for landll leachate. Apart from some aspects of some RA modules (as highlighted in the left column), overall all the
elements from 1 to 16 above are either absent or not addressed to a degree where they all could be tied together into an algorithmic
procedure of quantitative RA. Some elements are not in the scope of the document and examples are as follows. Exposure
quantication aspect is not in the remit of the publication. Apart from surface and groundwater, environmental receptors such as
humans, eco-systems, aquatic and terrestrial ora and fauna are not the main focus. Categorisation of hazards into toxic, nontoxic, carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic streams so that hazard indices and risks could be measured and aggregated separately
along these four streams. Employment of statistical descriptions such as maximum, minimum and most-likely values of various
quantiable HA parameters in particular to assist in establishing most-likely and worst-case risk scenarios. Though most of the
Baseline Study areas are indicated, the Baseline Study has not been categorised into a structure of eight headings/modules
indicated above in Point 2. In particular, the modules meteorology and geography are not included in this publication
In-operational and pre-operational landlls are excluded. The publication is not specically for landll leachate. Some of the RA
modules aspects (mentioned in the left column) are taken into account to an extent, but not to a level where they could be put
together in the form of total categorical and sequential methodology of RA. In summary, some of the elements from 1 to 16 above
are partly addressed but not all of them in an integrated manner

Bernard et al. (1996,


Bardos et al. (2003a,b)

Environment Agency

EPD (1997)

This publication addresses a range of risk analysis issues in general (listed in the left column). However, the focus is not specically
landll leachate, but rather a host of environmental hazards. Therefore it is immensely general. Moreover, the document does not
present the framework in the form of a ready-to-use procedure of risk assessment in which all risk analysis factors sit together in a
logical and functional sequence. For instance, in-depth Baseline Study in housing the eight modules (indicated above in 2) does not
fall in the remit of this document. Conclusively, all the factors from 1 to 17 above are absent in the context of being strictly specic
to landll leachate. Where as the research work discussed in this paper and the following Part 2 publication is regarding the
development of such a total risk analysis system which attempts to put together all sections and subsections related to risk analysis
process specically of landll leachate in a sequential order at one place

The publication is not about landll leachate in the rst place. The elements 116 are absent

T.E. Butt et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 952964

Environment Agency

This document provides material, in

general, for the development of functional
risk assessment guidance to assist issues
such as contaminated land, waste
management, major accident hazards
(DEFRA (2002)). It torches light on a
range of aspects of RA such as dealing
with uncertainty, types of quantication,
evaluation of signicance of a risk. This
guidance is like a useful starting point. It
is to serve as the rst port of call for
many Environment Agency ocers
before they tackle the detail and the same
is hoped for everyone interested in riskbased decision-making in Government
(DEFRA (2002))
This landll risk assessment publication is
from the perspective of issues including
noise, odour, litter, birds, vermin, insects,
and mud on road
These two papers (Part 1 and 2) are on
hazard analysis of landll leachate. They
discuss leachates from 25 landlls in
France as case studies with a number of
methods of determining leachate toxicity
and then comparing the physico-chemical
characteristics of leachates
These two articles draw on some aspects
of hazard assessment and risk analysis
from the perspective of contaminated
This document briey addresses a broad
and diverse range of facets of landll risk
analysis along the social, technical,
environmental, economic, legislative and
managerial themes. Both landll gas and
leachate are addressed. The main scope of
the guidance is limited to ve areas of risk
assessment, which are accidents and their
consequences; hydrogeology; landll gas;
particulate matter; and stability
This publication is a guideline for hazard
analysis of landll gas. It briey covers
various aspects of hazard and risk
assessment such as hazard mitigation
measures and source-pathway-target
analysis approach


DETR (2000a,b)

The publications are not on RA procedure at all. So all the elements 116 above are absent. However, the techniques identied on
measuring toxicity of landll leachate can be useful in exposure assessment and hazards concentration assessment modules of RA
for a given landll. But these papers still do not present procedures for exposure analysis and concentration assessment modules as
part of RA

These are not specically for landlls and all the elements from 1 to 16 above are absent from the perspective of landll leachate

As the document states itself that there are ve main areas, which constitute the main scope of the guidance (listed in the left
column). Yet landll leachate is not one of them, though is addressed to an extent. The guidance also mentions that it does not
provide all of the detail needed to conduct risk analysis for a landll. However, in the context of holisticness the authors nd this
guidance as the second most integrated RA framework for landll leachate. However, some examples of the elements from above
needing more or less further development work in this document are hazard indices, deriving risks for worst case and most likely
scenarios, consideration of temporal and spatial variations, and statistical descriptions. Some of the above elements are not in the
scope of the document and examples are as follows. Exposure quantication aspect is absent. Some of the Baseline Study modules
such as meteorology, human inuence and geography are not addressed

The publication is not for landll leachate. Even for landll gas the elements from 1 to 16 are either completely absent or very few
are partly covered to limited extent (as mentioned in the left column). From leachate point of view, all 116 are totally absent

(continued on next page)

Table 1 (continued)
Elements present

Elements absent

Kavazanjian et al.
(1995); Eisenbeis et al.
(1986); Jaggy (1996);
Asante-Duah (1996);
WDA (1994); Pieper
et al. (1997); DoE

Some old literature (examples given in the

left column) on landll assessment was
also studied to assess if there was any
work done on RA in the past on
developing a holistic RA methodology.
They have been found to address various
risk assessment issues such as seismic
hazard analysis for landlls; exposure
assessment; baseline study; toxicity
assessment; risk estimation; specic
landll type and nature; contaminated
land remediation; specic hazards such as
polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and
furans (PCDD/F); and health eects from
hazardous landll sites
This publication regards landll risk
assessment in the context of landll
leachate liners and drainage systems
Currently, the publication is in a draft
form. It regards hazard and risk
assessment in the context of natural
hazards such as ooding, earthquake,
landslides, and wildre
Describes a basic framework for the risk
assessment of contaminated land
This publication, which is a government
document for local authorities, covers RA
in a very broad sense of hazards. These
include natural hazards such as tornado,
ooding, earthquake; technological
hazards such as high pressure gas mains,
computer systems failure; biological
hazards including disease amongst
people, animals or plants; and civil/
political hazards comprising terrorism
and civil unrest
This environmental guidance mentions
Risk-Based Corrective Action (RBCA)
standards developed for addressing
petroleum and chemical releases. The
purpose of this guide is to explain riskbased decision making and the RBCA
process for environmental restoration of
chemically contaminated sites
These four documents are regarding risk
assessments of neurotoxicity,
reproductive toxicity, ecology and
carcinogens, respectively

Element 1 is totally absent where as the other elements are described to various levels in a piece-meal fashion (as in indicated in the
left column) and thus these publications do not oer a categorical and sequential procedure for RA in a holistic manner for landll

SEPA (2002)

CPPD (2004)

Rudland et al. (2001)

Auckland Regional
Council (2002)

DOE (1998)

EPA (1998, 1996a,b,c)

The publication is not for anthropogenic activities in the rst place. Therefore does not consider landlls at all. It discusses various
natural hazards with statistics, but does not present a structured RA procedure. The elements from 1 to 16 above are absent

Not specically for landlls. All of the elements from 1 to 16 above are absent in the context of landll leachate
The publication is not specically for landlls. It just encapsulates all natural and anthropogenic hazards without presenting a
holistic RA procedure. The format is more like a checklist. In nutshell, all of the elements from 1 to 16 (above) are absent not only
for landlls but for any hazards in general

The purpose of this document is not the development of a holistic risk assessment methodology. The system presented is not for
landlls as such. The system emphasises more on determining the data required for technical decision making rather than on
following specic process steps for risk analysis. Elements 117 are completely and/or partly absent

These documents may be useful in risk analysis of landll leachate in the context of establishing neurotoxicity, reproductive
toxicity, ecological and carcinogenic aects of leachate pollutants. However, these publications are not produced specically from
the point of view of landll leachate and thus in this sense all of the elements indicated above are missing


Line missing

Apart from the aspect of liners and drainage systems, which form part of Site Management sub-module of the Baseline Study
above, the elements 116 are absent

T.E. Butt et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 952964


CMSA (2004),
Puncochar (2003),
Koivisto et al. (2001),
Feldman and White
(1996), CHEM Unit
(2003), Pauluhn
(1999), Muth et al.
(2001), Tarazona and
Vega (2002)

These publications are regarding hazard These publications are not for landlls in the rst place. All the aforesaid elements are absent from the landll leachate perspective
and risk assessment in the context of these
respective subjects: mining, workplace,
genetically modied organisms,
neurology, indoor environment, ecology,
toxicology, food, and chemicals


T.E. Butt et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 952964

The literature review by the authors led to the conclusion that a comprehensive, robust and sound risk assessment methodology only specically for landll leachate in
an integrated manner with features (examples below) does
not exist:
 embedding individual procedures of relevant RA factors
such as hazard identication, exposure quantication,
hazards concentration assessment, and preliminary
 encompassing the various types of landll systems and
their surroundings;
 covering all possible characteristics of landlls such as
landll liners and landll capping;
 baseline study (including subjects such as geology,
hydrology, hydrogeology, meteorology, geography,
topography, site engineering and human inuence);
 hazard identication and categorisation into groups
such as toxic, non-toxic, carcinogenic, and non-carcinogenic hazards;
 hazard concentration assessment at various links of a
given pathway, that is not only at the landll pollutant
source but also in other links of the pathway such as
exposure medium and within boundaries of targets/
 exposure assessment with exposure quantication. Also
the consideration of exposure not only to groundwater
courses but also other environmental receptors such as
surface waters, land/soil, ecosystems, humans, aquatic
and terrestrial ora and fauna;
 employment of statistical description such as maximum,
minimum, and mean/most likely values of various
parameters involved in a RA process;
 categorisation of values of each risk assessment factor
into two groups, one for assisting in working out most
likely risk scenario and other for worst case risk scenario;
 encapsulating other features and scenarios such as
allowing for toxic, carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic
 consideration of the three landll phases, which are preoperational stage (i.e., design and development phase),
in operation stage, and post operational stage (i.e., completed and post closure phase);
 adhesion of quantitative aspects to various RA parameters so that risks are quantiable or can be measured
 provisions for the analysis of signicance or sensitivity
of characteristics and parameters of various RA items.
For instance, out of total number of pathways in a given
landll scenario which ones are insignicant to aect
and thus can be omitted from the risk assessment
 facilities for the assessment of uncertainties that may be
involved in dierent characteristics and parameters of
RA sections and sub-sections. Examples of such uncertainties are temporal and spatial variations and interpolation from animal data in toxicology;

T.E. Butt et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 952964

 allowance of analysis of pollutants fate and transport,

thereby addressing a range of parameters such as dilution, retardation, and dispersion.
A range of knowledge limitations has been found in the
literature reviewed to date. One of the most common
knowledge gaps has been that of a user-friendly, sequential/stage-by-stage, categorical, in detail and yet integrated
and quantitative methodology for carrying out risk assessment in a holistic manner specically for landll leachate.
The driving force behind this research study is to establish
background for the development of a framework of such a
risk analysis approach with holism, which is comprehensive
and yet only specic to landll leachate. In order to achieve
this, the paper investigates the state of the art of risk
assessment approaches, both non-computational as well
as computational. It is noticed by the authors that the literature to date is limited, indirect and in a piece-meal or
non-integrated manner. One apparent reason is that there
is no literature generated with the intent of a holistic
approach to risk assessment for landlls in the rst place.
Brief remarks on the review of some of the literature and
the characteristics of the knowledge gaps and limitations
are contained in Table 1. It is worth mentioning that the
term holistic in this publication implies an overall framework encompassing or encapsulating all aspects and factors of the risk assessment of landll leachate from start
to end.
3. Computer-aided approaches state of the art
The development of computational methods and the
ability to model systems more precisely enables hazards
to be quantied, their eects to be simulated and risk analysis to be pursued with greater accuracy, leading to a more
eective risk management. These developments are not
only important for all areas of human endeavour, but have
particular relevance to environmental issues where the risks
involved are increasingly seen as substantial. However, the
authors did not come across a computational approach of
a total risk assessment methodology that addresses the
knowledge gaps listed in Section 2. It should be noted that
in this study a computer model is seen as an electronic representation of a procedure or methodology.
An investigation of the various relevant computer-aided
approaches that are recognised to be closely related to
landll risk assessment was undertaken, namely:
 LandSim (Environment Agency, 2003e, 2001, 1996),
 HELP Hydro-geological Evaluation of Landll Performance (Scientic Software Group, 1998),
 GasSim (Attenborough et al., 2002; Golder Associates,
 GasSimLite (Environment Agency, 2002), and
 RIP Repository Integration Programme (Landcare
Research, 2003; Golder Associates, 1998).


The rst four computer programmes are specically

designed for landlls, although the features of the RIP were
subsequently extended to take landlls into account on a
comparatively large scale. The other software types examined by the authors are not demonstrably related to landll
risk, although they could be used to underpin some of the
aspects of landll risk assessment. For instance, Drill
Guide (Scientic Software Group, 1997/98) is useful in
the sense that it can be included in the geology module of
the baseline study of a given landll, which consequently
will help in the risk assessment process.
As far as the software packages specically on landll
risk assessment are concerned, they do not holistically
encapsulate all of the elements of RA methodology for
landll leachate. For example, the LandSim software,
which is purely for landll risk assessment, probabilistically
estimates likely concentrations of leachate pollutants that
can reach a given point in the ground (e.g., groundwater
abstraction point) in a certain time, in terms of years. It
also allows for temporal and spatial variations. However,
it does not include the quantication aspect of exposure
analysis, for instance, what would be the amount of exposure for people (or livestock) if they were to consume this
groundwater. Therefore, the LandSims characteristic of
pollutant concentration estimation in an exposure medium
such as groundwater can be taken a step further to quantify
exposure (e.g., for livestock or a sh farm), which would
make the quantitative risk assessment more comprehensive. Furthermore, it is a tool mainly focusing groundwater
as a receptor and not particularly other environmental
receptors such as human population, livestock, and crops
in a farm eld. Even though the software has a feature
where leachate hazards are listed as a typical inventory or
input data and can also be over-ridden on case-specic
basis, there is no allowance for the categorisation of hazards into groups such as toxic, non-toxic, carcinogenic
and non-carcinogenic. In summary, the LandSim is a part
of the total RA not the total RA system itself. Similarly,
the HELP programme contains only some aspects of landll risk assessment. These are mainly the design features of
landll (such as liners, capping) and some of the baseline
study aspects (such as precipitation, surface runo), while
not addressing many other RA modules and sub-modules.
The software GasSim, although dealing with relevant risk
assessment modules, including gas generation, migration,
impact and exposure, as the name GasSim suggests, is
designed for assessing landll gas and not for leachate.
The GasSimLite is also developed from the perspective of
landll gas only and can also only be used in terms of calculating gas emissions. As with the other models mentioned, both GasSim and GasSimLite are not total RA
models in a categorical and algorithmic manner.
On the other hand the RIP, which is an integrated probabilistic simulator for environmental systems, has not been
specically developed for landll risk assessment. It has
been designed generally for any potential pollutant source


T.E. Butt et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 952964

in the ground, e.g., a chemical storage tank. So with the

RIP, which is a generic software, risk assessors have to
adapt it to their specic problems such as landlls. This
adaptation is time consuming and not an easy task for
everyone (Miller, 1998). Although RIP can be applied to
landlls for issues such as contaminant release and transport, it does not readily provide such a straightforward
total RA procedure for landll leachate, which a risk assessor could follow in a sequential and systematic fashion.
GoldSim is another general-purpose simulation software
to support an even wider variety of applications, most of
which fall into one of the following three categories: environmental systems modelling, business and economic modelling, and engineered system modelling (GoldSim
Technology Group, 2003). Thus it outgrows even the
RIP in terms of generics and in parallel to RIP,; users have
to learn how to adapt the GoldSim to their specic
The ConSim programme is a tool for assessing the risks
that are posed to groundwater quality by pollutants
migrating from contaminated land (Whittaker et al.,
2001). The authors nd that this has not been specically
designed for use with landlls; particularly when landlls
have a leachate head and/or liners, which is very likely with
modern engineered landlls (Environment Agency, 2003b).
The Contaminated Land Exposure Assessment (CLEA)
software considers risks posed by hazards to human health
only and not to other environmental receptors such as
plants, animals, buildings and controlled waters (Environment Agency, 2003c). Pathways are considered only from
the perspective of soil as an exposure medium and not
leachate (Environment Agency, DEFRA and SEPA,
2002). As for ConSim, the CLEA programme has been
designed for use with contaminated land and not specically for landlls (DEFRA & Environment Agency,
2002) and once again, neither ConSim, nor CLEA oer a
complete RA model for landll leachate.
The EPAs Multimedia, Multipathway, and Multireceptor Risk Assessment (3MRA) allows for evaluation of ve
waste management unit types and landll is one of them.
The other four are waste pile, aerated tank, surface
impoundment, and land application unit (Leavesley and
Nicholson, 2005). Thus, this renders the model more general than if it had been only specic to landll leachate.
The model does not include a complete set of exposure
routes. For example, some human exposure pathways such
as dermal exposure are not included, nor is the potential
for adverse eects beyond a 2 km radius around waste
management units (i.e., the attendant risks to human
health and the environment associated long-range transport and accumulation). Also, concurrent exposures to
multiple contaminants in the waste are not considered
(EPA, 2004). The model encapsulates a host of living receptors but does not seem to mainly include non-living items
as standalone receptors, although they may be indirectly
covered as part of ecological systems (CEAM, 2005; Weinberg et al., 2003).

The Hazardous Waste Identication Rule (HWIR)

methodology represents the manner in which a United
States national-scale assessment is conducted to determine
human and ecological risks for establishing appropriate
contaminant-specic exemption levels for relevant industrial waste streams. The HIWR modelling technology has
also been developed to automate the risk assessment methodology. The objective of the HIWR system is to reduce
the possible over regulation. Thus waste streams which
qualify under the HIWR rule, i.e., listed wastes that could
meet the HIWR exit level criteria (in a given scenario)
would no longer be subject to the hazardous waste management system specied in Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act (RCRA). This way HIWR can assist in sustainable waste management by supporting waste minimisation and the development of innovative waste treatment
technologies. The HIWR approach covers a variety of living receptors such as soil fauna, mammals, and plants but
does not seem to address non-living items as receptors in
themselves. The focus appears to be wastes themselves
rather than a given landll scenario in the context of quantifying risks posed by the landll. (NERL, 2001; EPA,
1999a,b, 2000, 2003, 2005; DOE, 1994).
Spatial Analysis and Decision Assistance (SADA) is a
software programme that incorporates tools from environmental assessment elds into an eective problem solving
environment (TIEM, 2006). These tools include integrated
modules for visualisation, geo-spatial analysis, statistical
analysis, human health risk assessment, ecological risk
assessment, cost/benet analysis, sampling design, and
decision analysis. Out of this wide range of tools or modules, only the two most relevant are selected to describe
here as examples. The Human Health Risk module provides a full human health risk assessment and associated
databases from a range of land use scenarios. These include
residential, industrial, agricultural, recreational, and excavation land uses, but not specically landlls. Ecological
Risk is another module or unit of the SADA which allows
users to perform benchmark screenings and the ability to
calculate forward risk to a number of terrestrial and aquatic receptors that are currently being added. Even after this
module has been fully developed, it may only be helpful to
an extent to address only two aspects of landll risk assessments: (1) assisting in identifying a whole range of environmental receptors (both aquatic and terrestrial) and yet for
humans as receptors, the user still will have to consult the
former module, i.e., Human Health Risk module; and (2)
in establishing critical concentration levels, which is only
a factor of the Concentration Assessment section of the
total risk assessment methodology. It seems that SADA
is one of a number of software programmes addressing different scenarios. A landll assessor will have to work on
selecting the right combinations of these dierent software
programmes each time they are carrying out a landll risk
analysis and yet SADA will not provide for each and every
facet of the landll risk assessment in a readily useable format. Moreover, as the title speaks for itself, the focus of the

T.E. Butt et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 952964

Spatial Analysis and Decision Assistance appears to be

more on spatial than temporal.
Adaptable risk assessment modelling system (ARAMS)
is a computer-based, modelling and database driven analysis system developed for the US Army for estimating the
human and ecological health impacts and risk associated
with military relevant compounds (MRCs) and other constituents (ERDC, 2006). ARAMS takes various existing
databases and models for exposure, intake/update, and
eects (health impacts) and incorporates them into conceptual site-models. The user may need to choose which particular model and/or database to use for each scenario.
The heart of ARAMS is the object-oriented Conceptual
Site Model (CSM), but that relies yet on another computer
programme called FRAMES discussed below. Thus it is
not an easy task to adapt ARAMS into a landll leachate
scenario every time if a landll assessor decides to use
ARAMS. Moreover, ARAMS appears to concentrate
mostly on the exposure assessment facet of a risk analysis,
which is just a part of the total risk assessment methodology. It does not have other facilities such as a baseline
study section comprising, for instance, geology, hydrology,
hydrogeology, topography, etc. that are necessarily
required in a landll risk analysis. Similarly, Multimedia
Environmental Pollutant Assessment System (MEPAS) is
another computer-based programme that is a suite of environmental models developed to assess contaminated environmental problems for government, industrial, and
international clients (PNNL, 2006a). The software integrates transport and exposure pathways for chemical and
radioactive releases to determine their potential impact
on the surrounding environment, individuals, and populations. MEPAS modules have been integrated in the
FRAMES software platform to allow MEPAS models to
be used with other environmental models to accomplish
the desired analysis. In the context of landlls, the situation
with MEPAS is not much dierent than ARAMS. Both the
computer programmes are not to and do not present an
overall risk assessment methodology of landll leachate
with the intent of holism.
Framework for Risk Analysis Multimedia Environmental Systems (FRAMES) is a software platform for selecting
and implementing environmental software models for risk
assessment and management problems, which may even
include electronic governance issues (Evangelidis, 2003).
In other words, the purpose of FRAMES is to assist users
in developing environmental scenarios and to provide
options for selecting the most appropriate computer codes
to conduct human and environmental risk management
analyses (PNNL, 2006b). This programme is a exible
and overall approach to understanding how industrial
activities aect humans and the environment. It incorporates models that integrate across scientic disciplines,
allowing for tailored solutions to specic activities, and it
provides meaningful information to business and technical
managers. FRAMES is the key to identifying, analysing,
and managing potential environmental, safety and health


risks. As obvious with this discussion, FRAMES is a

hugely generic programme, and yet it does not contain a
software for landll leachate which could guide a landll
assessor to perform a landll risk analysis with the wide
range of risk assessment features listed in Section 2.
The RESRAD is a combination of two words RESidual
and RADiation (DMS, 2006), which is used as an acronym
for Residual Radiation environmental analysis (Farlex,
2006). The RESRAD is a family of computer codes to provide a scientically based answer to the question how clean
is clean and to provide useful tools for evaluating human
health risk from residual contamination (EAD, 2006a).
These codes include (EAD, 2006a,b):
1. RESRAD, for soil contaminated with radio-nuclides;
2. RESRADBUILD, for buildings contaminated with
3. RESRAD-CHEM, for soil contaminated with hazardous chemicals;
4. RESRADBASELINE, for risk assessments against
measured (baseline) concentrations of both radio-nuclides and chemicals in environmental media;
5. RESRAD-ECORISK, for ecological risk assessments;
6. RESRAD-RECYCLE, for recycle and reuse of radiologically contaminated metals and equipment; and
7. RESRAD-OFFSITE, for o-site receptor dose/risk
From the above it is obvious that none of the family
members is specically for landll leachate, although RESRAD addresses wide-ranging environmental issues and
aspects. Even if these members are used in combination,
these are not able to address all factors and aspects of risk
analysis of landll leachate, for instance, landll phases;
detailed and categorical baseline study; etc. Furthermore,
to combine these into a landll leachate context alone
would be a cumbersome task to execute each time a landll
risk assessment is performed for dierent landll scenarios.
However, there is no stopping landll assessors from processing landll data sets using any of these seven codes
while they carry out a landll risk analysis. For instance,
RESRAD-CHEM considers nine exposure pathways
including inhalation of dust and volatiles; ingestion of
plant foods, meat, milk, soil, aquatic food and water; and
dermal absorption from soil and water contact. This code
may help address aspects of exposure assessment, which
is only one unit of the total risk assessment process. However, this code is no longer being updated (EAD, 2006c).
RISC-HUMAN 3.1, RUM and VlierHumaan (Van
Hall Instituut of Business Center, 2000, 2001, 2002, respectively) are three other software packages relating to risk
analysis with a main emphasis on exposure assessment;
however, they are designed for use with contaminated land
and not specically for landlls.
In summary, in the light of above investigation, the
authors contend the following: like non-computational
RA approaches, there is no computational RA approach


T.E. Butt et al. / Waste Management 28 (2008) 952964

either that contains all of the RA factors (listed in Section

2) with the idea of holism and continuity, which landll
assessors could use specically for landll leachate from
start to end.
4. Concluding remarks
Landlls continue to be one of the main methods of
waste disposal despite their relatively high potential to pollute the environment. Therefore risk assessment is required
as a tool to identify and dene landll hazards for the environment. The risk assessment is a most important factor of
an eective risk control, as the degree of success of the latter is based on the former. The other side of the coin is that
there does not exist such a holistic risk assessment methodology for landll leachate, which could help to perform the
process of risk assessment from the start (i.e., baseline
study) through to the end (i.e., hazard indices and risk
quantication). Main examples of features that are either
wholly or partly absent in the state of the art of landll
risk assessment approaches are statistical descriptions; signicance and uncertainty assessments; temporal and spatial
variations of various landll characteristics; risk quantication for carcinogenic as well non-carcinogenic hazards;
aggregation of risks; hazard identication and categorisation; consideration of background concentrations of pollutants in exposure media and receptors; and the means to
assist derive risks in the categories of most likely and worst
case scenarios. This research allows the authors to recognise the necessity, identify knowledge gaps and establish
bases for developing a more holistic framework of an algorithmic and quantitative methodology of risk analysis for
landll leachate in an integrated manner.
The authors acknowledge the nancial support of Dundee City Council in this project. We are additionally grateful for the discussion and help received from Mr. Peter
Goldie of the Environment and Consumer Protection
Department, Dundee City Council. The support from Stephen T. Washburn (Managing Principal, ENVIRON, New
Jersey, US), Dr. I.M. Spence (Consultant Environmental
Geologist, Scotland), Dr. M.I. Baloch (Wessex Water,
UK) and Mr. Phillip Jenkins (University of Abertay Dundee, Scotland) is also highly appreciated.
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