Environmental Modelling & Software 24 (2009) 8–25

Fault tree analysis and fuzzy expert systems: Early warning and emergency response of landfill operations

I. M. Dokas1,1, D. A. Karras2, D. C. Panagiotakopoulos3

Dr., Cork Constraint Computational Centre, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland


Prof., Chalkis Institute of Technology, Automation Dept. and Hellenic Open University, Rodu 2, Ano Iliupolis, Athens,

16342, Greece

Prof., Laboratory of Project Management, Civil Engineering Department, Democritus University of Thrace, Xanthi, 67100,


In this paper we argue that early warning systems for engineering facilities can be developed by combining and integrating existing technologies and theories. As example, we present an efficient integration of fuzzy expert systems, fault tree analysis and World Wide Web technologies to their application in the development of the Landfill Operation Management Advisor (LOMA), a novel early warning and emergency response system for solid waste landfill operations. The aim of LOMA is to provide assistance to landfill managers on their efforts in preventing accidents and operational problems and to help them to develop emergency response plans if these operational problems shall occur. Additional aim is to disseminate information and knowledge to the public on landfill

Corresponding author.

E-mail address: i.dokas@4c.ucc.ie, jdokas@yahoo.gr 1

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operational problems and their adverse effects. This aim is related to solid waste organizations that have to accord with legislations similar to the European Union’s EC Directive (2003/4/EC) on Public Access to Environmental Information. When using LOMA, the user first describes the working conditions at the landfill. Then, based on this description, LOMA informs user about the potential operational problems. Afterwards, it analyzes the operational problems in more detail and it estimates the possibility of their occurrence. Finally, it provides advice on how to prevent them and on how to respond if any of them occurs. This paper thoroughly investigates LOMA development as well as its integral methodologies and validates it by outlining its performance in test cases that were performed by experts during the operation of a real landfill as well as in test cases extracted from a specially constructed database with synthetic events.

Early warning system, Expert systems, Fault tree analysis, Fuzzy logic, Possibility theory, Landfills, Operational problems, Public access to environmental information, Accidents.

Software Availability
Landfill Operation Management Advisor is a web based system which is available for free from


1. INTRODUCTION 1.1. Problem Definition
In order to manage the anticipated problems from the generation and disposal of solid waste, Solid Waste Management (SWM) systems have been designed and are operating worldwide. The main task of a SWM system is to collect, transport, and dispose the solid waste generated within a service area using methods and techniques that meet predefined specifications. These systems include 2

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source separation of recyclables and hazardous waste as well as facilities for recycling and composting (Salhofer et al., 2007 ). A number of facilities like landfills, recycling, scrap, and incinerators are some components of a SWM system. However, being common in many engineering systems, the operations in these facilities are associated with problems. The consequences of the operational problems in SWM facilities, depending on their nature and severity, range from minor infrastructure damages or simple nuisance problems to critical events, which can lead to the loss of human lives or even to disasters. In this work the term “operational problem” is used to describe a situation during the operation of a facility, which is undesirable from an environmental, economical, social, and operational perspective. In the context of landfills, such operational problems could be the surface and subsurface fires, wind blown litter, traffic problems, and problems regarding the leachate and gas management, together with accidents and fatal injuries. An indicative example of a disaster that is related to land disposal of waste is the disaster that happened in the Leuwigajah dumpsite in Indonesia, where after 3 days of heavy rainfall 2.700.000 m3 of waste started sliding down the valley (Kölsch et al., 2005). The waste covered an area of 900 m × 300 m, 147 people died in the ruins of two settlements, and the surrounding environment has been damaged significantly. Another worth to mention example is the fire that burst out in the second larger landfill in Greece during the summer of 2006. Most probably, the fire was burning for days in the compacted volume of waste under the subsurface of the landfill. It was expanded at the surface after the collapse of a large pile of waste. The fire was burning for 10 days and released large amount of dioxins in the atmosphere. In addition to the fire incident, one leachate holding pond was overflowed due to the collapse of the waste pile causing large quantities of leachate to be expanded to the surrounding area and to reach the houses of an adjacent village. In short, the incident resulted in a local scale crisis, and environmental disaster.


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Several types of events like: bad weather conditions, equipment malfunction, wrong operation practice, but also issues like bad design, human, organizational and communication errors can be combined appropriately and can lead to critical operational problems such as the disasters mentioned above. Unfortunately, there is a gap in the existing knowledge with respect to the factors that contribute to the occurrence of incidents and accidents in SWM facilities. Therefore, the managers of these facilities rely on their experience in order to estimate if any operational problem is about to occur and of how this can be prevented or restricted. In this paper we argue that intelligent computer systems can provide significant assistance to landfill and to SWM treatment facilities managers in confronting operational problems through combining existing technologies and theories so that to form Early Warning Systems (EWS). United Nations defines EWS as the provision of timely and effective information, through identifying institutions, that allow individuals exposed to a hazard to take action to avoid or reduce their risk and prepare for effective response (ISDR-UN, 2004). The objectives of such systems in the framework of the SWM industry should be the provision of timely warning of imminent dangers so that the managers and personnel could have time to prepare their strategy and their actions accordingly to prevent it. In addition, we describe a novel research investigation on how to combine Expert System (ES) technologies together with basic principles of the theory of fuzzy logic and a widely used risk analysis method called fault tree analysis so that to develop an EWS for landfill operations.

1.2 Research Goals and Paper Objectives
In this work we assume that SWM systems within a country or a state can be seen as organizations, which have strategic, tactic and operational levels. The environmental protection agency, for example, can be represented in the strategic level of the SWM organization model based in our assumption. The SWM treatment facilities can be represented in the tactical level, while the subsystems in these facilities, which are responsible and are determining their daily operations, can be represented in the operation level. 4

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High level goal of our research is to formalize a general purpose methodology for early warning and knowledge dissemination services in the context of SWM organizations, focusing in particular at the operational problems in SWM treatment facilities. The objective of our work presented in this paper is to satisfy the need for early warning service with respect to the operational problems in landfills. This service is intended to be similar to the type of early warning service that would be given by environmental protection agency personnel to an inexperienced landfill manager. Additional goal is to disseminate the acquired knowledge and information about operational problems in landfills to the public and to groups of people who could be interested for it, so that in this way, to provide support to SWM organizations to accord with legislations which are similar to European Union’s EC Directive (2003/4/EC) on Public Access to Environmental Information. In this paper we present LOMA, which is the result of our attempt to provide the early warning and knowledge dissemination services by combining together widely known technologies namely, ES technologies, fault tree analysis, and possibility theory. In developing LOMA we first defined the Hellenic SWM system as the reference organization and a typical landfill at the operation phase as the reference system. Then, we acquired and modelled the knowledge on landfill operational problems and then we represented this knowledge into LOMA. The last step of the development process was to validate and to test our system. This paper provides details in how the selected technologies were used and configured together, illustrates the user-system interactions, and presents the results of the validation and testing phase. It also presents the architecture and a detailed description of the knowledge base structure of the system.

1.3 Previous Work and Paper Structure
This paper is complementary to Dokas et al., (2006; 2007). Both papers are important for one to comprehend basic elements characterizing our research goal which is the formalisation of a methodology for EWS. In Dokas et al. (2006) we proposed an effective process during which the


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knowledge on operational problems in landfills can be acquired and elicited and we have shown in detail to which extent a risk analysis method is elaborated in this knowledge acquisition and elicitation process. What is new in this paper, compared to Dokas et al. (2006), which actually describes only the knowledge acquisition component of the herein presented complete system, is that we show in detail how the same graphical notation was used as basis to represent the knowledge of operational problems in to an intelligent system providing early warning services. In short, our point of view in this paper has a knowledge representation orientation. We show in detail the architecture of such an intelligent system, as well as how fuzzy fault tree analysis, possibility theory and risk analysis are integrated into one operational fuzzy expert system providing early warning services. Nevertheless, this paper provides a very brief only description of the knowledge acquisition phase which is based on the work in Dokas et al (2006) aiming to enhance readers understanding of the significant role of fault tree analysis in the methodology that we are trying to formalise. In Dokas et al. (2007) we have illustrated with a test case, which emulates a very small fraction of the current functionalities of LOMA, how could the adaptation tasks be performed, how easy these tasks can be implemented in a prototype of LOMA with using its current technologies and how new knowledge and conditions that are evolving with time can be represented in a LOMA like prototype. This work shows how the tasks of updating, maintaining and adapting the knowledge base in a LOMA like prototype can be performed. However, due to the fact that the concepts and relations associated with these tasks have to build up into the integrated LOMA system, herein presented, the specifications for updating, maintaining and adapting the knowledge base of the overall system become much more complex and cannot be dealt into the present paper. It is our future goal to extent the above mentioned sample test cases for updating, maintaining and adapting the knowledge base, using the rigorous frame based representation theory (Dokas et al. (2007), to all functionalities of LOMA, based on which, we will be able to define specifications for a tool that will


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support these tasks to be done automatically in order to enhance the attempts of the development team and of some authorised users to enrich, update and maintain the knowledge base of LOMA. Many scientific fields were using ES technology to solve a variety of problems starting from the 1960’s. Recently, artificial intelligent technologies together with fuzzy logic have been used for the development of EWS. Liu et al. (2003) have implemented If-Then rules to model the risks associated to software quality and project management and in order to assess the risks they have applied fuzzy inference on the rules. Yang et al. (2001) have examined the application of three layer BP artificial neural network to an EWS for commercial bank loan risk. Lei et al. (2006) have introduced case based reasoning that is enhanced by genetic algorithms in a EWS for financial crisis. Although the types of early warning services provided by the systems described in these papers are different with respect to the reference organizations and to the reference systems, these can be considered to be comparable with LOMA. Regarding the use of ES technologies in the field of SWM it has been reported that up to the year 1990, ES applications regarding the municipal SWM planning have not been identified (Thomas et al. 1990). More recently, a review of available ES, geographic information systems, decision support systems and their applications in the landfill design and management was contacted by Lukasheh et al. (2001). The nine reviewed ES were dealing with the following problems: a) assessment and evaluation of a landfill site, b) design and evaluation of landfill elements such as leachate collection systems, final cover, vegetative cover, compacted clay liner, c) assessment of the liner material in chemical resistance to the waste leachate, d) evaluation of landfill closure e) landfill design. Although in the same reference was noted that landfill operations is a suitable area for ES applications, none of the reviewed ES was referring, in any way, to the landfill operational problems. Moreover, we did not find, up to today, any paper presenting the application of fuzzy logic and ES technology to landfill operational problems.


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The paper continues by describing the main concepts and the main development phases of LOMA as follows. In section 2 we describe the basic concepts behind the technologies that were used to develop LOMA. Section 3 presents the high level specifications of LOMA. In section 4 emphasis is given to the use of fault tree analysis during the knowledge acquisition process. At that point the rationale for using the fuzzy importance measure as a measure of prioritizing the emergency response actions is presented. In section 5 we present the architecture of LOMA and we provide a detailed description of its knowledge base structure. An illustrative example of the calculations for the possibility estimation of operational problems is given in section 6, followed by a description of the steps in using LOMA services, which is made in section 7. In section 8, we describe the validation process that was applied to LOMA, followed by section 9, in which we discuss LOMA’s characteristics and we present our conclusions in relation to paper’s objectives.

In a nutshell, ES are tools which allow expert knowledge and experience to be “treated and stored” properly in order that they can be used by non-experts at a later time. ES are especially effective in cases where the need is for modeling heuristic concepts rather than analytical mathematical relations (Turban, 1995). Fuzzy logic (Zadeh, 1965) provides a framework whereby basic notions such as similarity, uncertainty and preference can be modeled effectively. A “fuzzy set” represents a set with ill-defined boundaries. Fuzzy logic processes vague terms with “grey boundaries”, managing however to come up with a conclusion, within the closed interval [0, 1] ranging from “completely false” to “completely true”. Fuzzy sets have been used in numerous scientific applications for modeling ambiguities of the real world (Iliadis, 2005; Makropoulos et al., 2005; Marsili-Libelli, 2004; Ross, 2004; Zimmermann, 1996; Fay, 2000) . There are situations where fuzzy set theory is used in collaboration with ES technology leading to fuzzy expert systems (Fleming et al., 2007; Liu et al., 2006; Makropoulos, 2003; Grove, 2000). Fault tree analysis can be simply described as an analytical technique whereby an undesired state of the system is specified and the system is then analyzed in 8

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the context of its environment and operation to find all realistic ways in which the undesired event can occur (Stamatelatos et al., 2002).

2.1. Structure of Expert Systems
ES, fuzzy and non-fuzzy (or “crisp”), contain the following modules (Turban, 1995): 1. The knowledge base, in which the knowledge of experts is represented in the form of IFTHEN rules, frames, semantic networks, first order logic based methods, etc. 2. The working memory module, that stores the input data and the information generated through the processing of rules. 3. The inference engine in which the processing of the rules and the reasoning of the ES take place. 4. The user interface module that facilitates the interaction between the user and the ES. 5. The knowledge acquisition facility that provides the user with appropriate “help” tools useful during knowledge acquisition procedures and finally, 6. The explanation module that allows the ES to present its reasoning regarding its conclusions. The main entities involved in ES development are: 1. The domain expert that is presumed to have the specific experience, knowledge, judgment and methods, as well as the ability to give advice for solving problems (Turban, 1995). 2. The knowledge engineer that is the builder of the ES who defines the knowledge framework and gathers the necessary facts, information and knowledge for the development of the knowledge base.


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2.2. Fuzzy Logic, Fuzzy Sets and Fuzzy Expert Systems
In classic logic, a proposition is exclusively true or false. In fuzzy logic, vague terms are fuzzy sets that can be processed to lead to conclusions ranging within a closed interval [0,1] (Kosko, 1997). A fuzzy set is characterized by its membership function; it expresses the degree to which the properties of the fuzzy set are satisfied by a specific value of the corresponding reference set. In Figure 1, if the abscissa refers to failure possibilities of a system component and pm = 0.30, then, objectively, the value of 0.30 fulfils the properties of the failure possibility set which is named “LOW”; as a result, a membership value of 1 is assigned (the maximum possible on a conventional scale [0, 1]). It can be assumed that the range of acceptable values fulfilling the property is 0.10 to 0.20 (pl to pr referring to Figure 1); then, all values of failure possibilities outside this range have a membership value of 0, while inside this range the membership value ranges from 0 to 1. Fuzzy sets may be linked by fuzzy rules of the following form: “if X is A, then Y is B”. Here, A and B are fuzzy sets and X and Y are the corresponding reference sets. A group of fuzzy rules constitutes a fuzzy system. The shape of membership functions in fuzzy systems affects their final results. However, in almost every work on fuzzy sets, the existence of membership functions taking part in the considered model is assumed and not studied in depth, whether or not such functions exist (Sancho-Royo et al., 1999). Bilgiç et al. (1999) outlined a summary of six methods of membership function shape determination, concerning the experimental research. In a specific outlined method, the experts were giving answers to questions like: “What is the degree of belonging of color A to the (fuzzy) set of dark colors?”. “What is the degree of belonging of John to the set of tall people?”. In general “To what degree a is F?”. This method is called membership function exemplification. Fuzzy expert systems are a kind of fuzzy systems that are processing input values by using fuzzy rules; the conclusions might be fuzzy or non-fuzzy (crisp). Fuzzy expert system is an expert system, which incorporates fuzzy sets and/or fuzzy logic into its reasoning process as well as into its


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knowledge representation scheme (Hall et al., 1991). The inference procedure of a fuzzy expert system consists of three states: fuzzification, inference and defuzzification.

In the fuzzification state, the user input is transformed into degrees of membership to the fuzzy sets, via the membership functions. At the beginning of the inference state, the fuzzy rules in the knowledge base are implemented, by using an appropriate implication method. The result of the implication of a fuzzy rule is also a fuzzy set, which is correlated to the degree of truth of the premise (the If part of the rule). The implementation of fuzzy rules is followed by the aggregation of fuzzy output sets. During the aggregation, the output fuzzy sets of all the implemented fuzzy rules are combined into one fuzzy set. Finally, during the defuzzification state, a specific output is derived from the combined fuzzy set mentioned above, as a final result of the inference procedure of the fuzzy expert system. The details of the fuzzy inference procedure and the advantages of using fuzzy logic in the development of ES can be found in (Cox, 1999) and (Zimmermann, 1996).

2.3. Fuzzy Fault Trees
A fault tree is a logic diagram that displays the interrelationships between a potential critical event in a system and the reasons for this event (Hoyland et al., 1994) and is the graphical representation of the fault tree analysis. A typical fault tree is consists of the top event, the basic events, and the logic gates. Figure 2 illustrates a fault tree structure with typical components. The top event represents an undesirable state of the system, the basic events represent the state of the systems components, and the logic gates describe the relationship between the basic events and the top event. In classic fault tree analysis the AND logic gate denotes that the output is in a failure state, if all the inputs are in failure state. The OR logic gate denotes that the output is in failure state, if at least one of the


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inputs is in failure state. An intermediate event represents an intermediate state of the system that is related directly or indirectly to the top event with a logic gate.

Fuzzy fault tree analysis (Yuhua et al., 2005, Onisawa, 1996, Suresh et al., 1996) extents classic fault tree analysis, which is based on the assumption that there are sound and clear success and failure states in a system and that failures occurs at random. Fuzzy fault tree analysis can be implemented when: • There are no clear boundaries between failure and success states of the system, or when it is not clear if the performance of the system fulfils its specifications. • The probability of system failure cannot be calculated precisely due to the lack of sufficient data and due to the existence of “noise” in the data set. • There is subjective evaluation of the reliability, which is made with natural language expressions. In the context of fuzzy fault tree analysis, given a fault tree structure it is possible to calculate the subjective reliability of the corresponding system, given information about the reliability of the system components in linguistic terms. These terms are translated into fuzzy sets. The fuzzy sets express the subjective possibility of failure (i.e. the subjective unreliability) of the system. This is done by mapping each linguistic value to a range of subjective failure possibilities through a fuzzy set membership function (this issue is discussed in detail in the § 6.2.) The subjective failure possibility is defined on the unit interval [0,1]. Thus, If Pos(E1), Pos(E2), … Pos(En) are the failure possibilities of the basic events E1, E2, … En respectively, and the corresponding components of the system are independent, then the output possibilities of the AND – OR gates can be calculated with the following formulas (Ross, 2004):


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PosAND = Pos(E1) ⊗Pos(E2)⊗…⊗Pos(En) {1}

PosOR = 1 (1 Pos(E1))⊗(1 Pos(E2))⊗….⊗(1 Pos(En))


PosAND, PosOR are the possibilities of the output events of the AND and OR logic gates respectively and the symbols ⊗ and denote the fuzzy subtraction and multiplication. Through the outputs of

the AND - OR gates it is possible to determine the subjective possibility of the top event following a bottom–up calculation approach. In some cases the independence of the top events might not be possible. That can happen in cases where a top event in a system has actuation signals or has causes that are common with other top events, which are referring to the same system. In this case the formulas {1} and {2} are not applied and other formulas that can be found in Stamatelatos (2002) should be taken instead. The fuzzy importance measure indicates “how much” a basic event contributes to the top event. It is derived from the Euclidian distance of two fuzzy sets. The first set is the derived possibility of the top event when a basic event Ei of the corresponding fault tree is completely available (TEEi=1), while the other set is the derived possibility of the top event when the same basic event is completely unavailable (TEEi=0). The fuzzy important measure is defined as (Suresh et al., 1996):


∑ ((ATE Ei=1 − ATE Ei=0 )2 + (BTE Ei=1 − BTE Ei=0 )2 )
α =1,2,..n



Where ATEEi=1,0 and BTEEi=1,0 denotes the lower and upper values of TEEi=1 and TEEi=0 fuzzy sets respectively at each α-level (or a-cut). α-level is the lower and upper values of the reference set corresponding to the membership values of the fuzzy sets TEEi=1 TEEi=0 that are greater than, or equal to some chosen membership value α in [0, 1].


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In many organizations and especially in SWM systems, the timely warning and response of imminent problems is more desirable in terms of economic, political, environmental, and human resources than to deal with the outbreak and aftermath in an ad-hoc manner. This is the core idea behind the development of LOMA. LOMA’s specifications were defined in order to provide a type of early warning service that can be considered to be similar to the early warning services offered by employees at the strategic level of an organization to the employees at the tactic level; especially at the case where from the second there is a lack of experience. The following assumptions were made with respect to this type of early warning service: • The employees at the strategic level should provide early warning services to employees in a lower level when this type of service is requested. • The early warning service is requested by the employees of a facility whenever they perceive events, which are unusual during the different known modes of operations of the facility, and they do not know or they are not certain if these events can facilitate the occurrence of operational problems. • The people at the strategic level are not obliged to know all the characteristics and attributes of the components associated with the facilities at the tactic level of the organization. They have to have knowledge however about the mechanisms that can trigger common operational problems in a typical facility of the same type. With the term “common operational problems” we mean the set of known problems that can occur in the majority, if not in all, SWM facilities of the same type within the same SWM organization


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during their operations, regardless its geographical location, the quantities and quality of incoming waste streams, its operational practices etc. In this context an ES application that could: 1. Be accessible by many landfill managers within a SWM organization. 2. Be accessible by people that are served by the SWM organization and who would like to be informed on operational problems and their adverse effects. 3. Provide expert answers to questions like: a) Based on the working conditions what operational problems can occur? b) How these can be prevented? c) If an accident or a problem occurs, what actions are required to lessen the impact of its consequences? 4. Deliver directly and in a timely manner the appropriate advice/solution so that managers could use to prevent accidents and operational problems. 5. Be easily updated with new knowledge and information. 6. Be simple in use, could be used to provide early warning services, to propagate the corresponding expertise globally, and to help landfill managers to respond to accidents and operational problems. These are in fact the specifications of LOMA in an abstract level. LOMA is addressed to landfill managers (especially to those with little experience in landfill operations), to the public, and to the personnel of a SWM organization that would like to know the following:


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1. The ease by which a common operation problem can occur based on current working conditions. 2. Advice/solutions about preventing and responding to operational problems. 3. The possible causes of these problems. Currently, LOMA estimates the occurrence possibility in 24 common landfill operational problems like subsurface fire, litter, corrodible soil cover, odor, noise, etc. These problems have been analysed in an “acceptable” and “sufficient” level using the principles of fault tree analysis. The level of analysis of an operational problem is considered to be “acceptable” if all constructs of a fault tree (i.e. top events, basic events, intermediate events) are associated to real components or to concepts that can be identified during the operations of a typical SWM facility. The level of analysis of an operational problem is considered to be “sufficient” if the attributes of the fault tree structures and their values are describing realistic conditions and coincidences which are known that could trigger operational problems in a typical SWM facility. LOMA was developed in the context of a specific SWM organization (i.e. the Hel-lenic SWM system). This, however, does not confine the level of generality of our analysis only in the boundary of Hellas, meaning that the 24 operational problems represented in LOMA can occur in the majority of landfills at the SWM organizations in some Mediterranean countries, especially in those being member states of the European Union. That is because these countries accord with European Union directives and have similar weather conditions. Thus, the typical landfill model used in LOMA can be considered to be approximately similar to some member states of the European Union. The landfill in the knowledge base of LOMA is represented with concepts and relations in such a detail and in such an abstract level that has its reference point into a type of landfill that it is considered to be typical. This type of analysis is not strange in the context of landfill operations. A


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number of instructive videos and special training packages on landfill operations are available, such as in COSD (2007) and ISWA (1998). These materials were developed having as reference point the operations in a typical landfill. There is however a significant difference between LOMA and these materials. The difference is that LOMA, in contrary to the training packages, represents explicitly the complexity of the coincidences and the chains of events, which can trigger operational problems. This is one extra characteristic that makes the work on LOMA unique in the context of SWM. LOMA’s development is based on the complete and sufficient analysis of a typical landfill and on the empirical findings regarding the dependence of its everyday operation to a set of events that can cause operational problems, within specific SWM organizations. However, we should point out that although our goal is to formalize a generic methodology in order to be used in any SWM organization, the system described here is generic only to a certain extent, since its knowledge base was adapted for Mediterranean regions mainly. Therefore, customization has to be made at the knowledge base, (i.e. addition/transformation of new concepts that represent operational problems, as well as causes and events that can trigger these) in order to be fully operational and applicable in totally different SWM organizations and in totally different facilities within SWM organizations (e.g. recycling facilities, incinerators, material recovery facilities etc.). We should point out also that the tasks of adapting; updating, and maintaining cannot be performed by the users of LOMA in its current version. The concepts and relations associated with these tasks have to build up in to the system. However, due to the generality of the methodology, the tasks of adaptation and maintenance does not need major effort for someone with basic computer programming skills since the concepts and relations of the new reference system have to be build up in the system using a representation technology which is easily understood (for more details see §6.1). Especially in the case where the new reference system is a landfill, a significant amount of the represented knowledge in LOMA can be reused and can be easily adapted in order to be used in specific landfills operating not only in Mediterranean countries. The task of adaptation in this case 17

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will require however significant contribution in terms of expertise acquisition and modelling, which our methodology tries to enhance with using the fault tree analysis; a widely used and easily understandable risk and reliability analysis method, as a knowledge acquisition and modelling tool. LOMA has been specified to be a web based system in order to support effectively a wide range of users such as for example the experienced and inexperienced landfill managers, by providing to them early warning services, and the people and organizations interested in landfill operations, by providing to them useful information. Given the variety of users, their potential geographic distribution, as well as the rapid expansion of fast and reliable web networks, the choice of developing a web based system had no other serious competitive alternative. It has been mentioned above that the users of LOMA cannot update and/or adjust automatically the knowledge base of LOMA from their browser. Whenever a user wants to contribute enriching the knowledge base of LOMA, he has to submit his analysis or his advice through the available web forms or through e-mail so that to be validated by the domain experts. Only after its validation the submitted knowledge will be included in the knowledge base. The process of updating the knowledge base by the users can be characterised as quite strict, but it has to be like this because the information in LOMA has to be “certified” by the experts in the strategic level of the organization (see also § 7.1). In light of these specifications, LOMA can be seen as a tool which provides four different types of services to the SWM organization, depending upon the category in which its users might belong. 1. Operational tool for the inexperienced landfill manager, 2. Information source that can be used by the public, 3. Consultation tool that can be used by the personnel at the strategic level of the organization, 4. Educational tool that can be used by the new staff members of the SWM organization.


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Usually large computer systems are developed by a development team. A group of scientists and/or skilled technicians are forming that team. Each member of the team has a role that is responsible for a certain set of tasks. Indicative roles of a typical development team of a computer system are those of the system architect, the specification engineer, the designer, the programmer and the tester. In particular, when developing knowledge based systems, there is one more role assigned to a member of the development team. This role is known as knowledge engineer. The knowledge engineer is responsible for the knowledge acquisition process (Schreiber et al. 2000). This process is very important for the development of a knowledge based system and often is quite complex. The roles employed in developing LOMA were those of: 1. The system architect role, to whom the assigned tasks were: the overall system design, specifications, fuzzy ES design, assign fuzzy membership functions to literal values, adapt extracted fault trees to match with the system 2. The knowledge engineer role, to whom the assigned tasks were: to perform literature research, understand the problems of landfill management, to talk with the experts, to facilitate meetings, to acquire and model the knowledge using fault trees and the assistance of landfill experts. 3. The programming engineer role, to whom the assigned tasks were: to code in fuzzy ES shell environment based on the specifications and to sett up the web interface layer of the system. 4. The tester role, to whom the assigned tasks were: the validation and verification of the system.


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This paragraph is focused on the knowledge acquisition process that was performed by the knowledge engineer of LOMA, and provides a brief description of it. In LOMA’s case, the knowledge acquisition was composed of three main activities: 1st activity: Preparation of the knowledge acquisition process during which the knowledge engineer has performed literature research and text analysis to familiarize himself with the application domain and to determine an initial set of landfill operational problems and causes. 2nd activity: The knowledge engineer observed the operations of a landfill. 3rd activity: In parallel with the 2nd activity the knowledge engineer had numerous meetings with the landfill manager who had more than 10 years of experience and considered to be a domain expert. From the point of view of the knowledge engineer the objective of the meetings mentioned in the 3rd activity was to analyze together with the domain expert the operational problems using the fault tree analysis. Additional objective was to determine advice, solutions and emergency response actions for each and every operational problem. These activities are briefly described below.

4. 1. Preparation - Text Analysis
Text analysis is a knowledge acquisition method in which knowledge is gathered and combined with the heuristics through printed documents like books, papers, guidelines, legislations, etc. Referring to the development of LOMA, the first goal of text analysis was to identify several common landfill operational problems. The second goal was to identify any printed document that was referring to: a) landfill operation in general, b) specific operational problems, c) advice/solutions regarding operational problems. The third goal was to identify as many as possible causes of operational problems and, if possible, the way by which these causes were combined together to trigger the operational problem. Finally, the last goal of text analysis was to detect any advice regarding the analyzed operational problems. 20

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Although numerous documents were found to refer on to several landfill subjects like design, leachate and methane production, few of them only were referring to landfill operation. Moreover, very few documents were referring exclusively to specific landfill operational problems. Table 1 displays the references used during the knowledge acquisition. The existence of very limited text resources regarding the analysis of landfill operational problems had made the task of text analysis to be very tedious.

4.2. Observations of Operations
To acquire the knowledge regarding operational problems effectively, the knowledge engineer attained the operation of a landfill in the city of Thessaloniki in Greece. The landfill serves more than one million inhabitants. It accepts about 400.000 tons/year and is open all year around, 24 hours a day. The landfill covers an estimated area of 50 ha with a depth of 15-35 m. During landfilling, the waste is spread in the working face in layers of 3 to 5 m and is compacted. Afterwards the compacted waste is covered with 0.5 m of soil. The attendance of the operations in situ gave the opportunity to the knowledge engineer to interact and communicate with the manager and personnel constantly. The goal of the knowledge engineer during the first days at the landfill was to a) point out to the experts the goal of the intelligent EWS, b) explain the basic notions of it (i.e. ES, fuzzy logic, fault tree analysis), c) establish with the help and guidance of the experts a collaboration model based on which the knowledge acquisition process will be achieved. After that initial phase, every working day for a three month period, a landfill tour was made by the knowledge engineer along with the landfill managers. The result was to acquire new knowledge about landfill operational problems that have been continually been updated and corrected with the guidance of the managers. Also, real operating problems have been observed. In addition, several questions were made to landfill personnel regarding the problems. Through the attendance of the


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landfill operations a total perspective regarding this subject has been obtained that no book was able to provide.

4.3. Meetings With the Domain Experts
4.3.1. Preparation

Periodically the knowledge engineer was in meetings with landfill managers to analyze the identified operational problems and to refine the knowledge that had already been acquired. During the preparation of the meetings, the knowledge engineer was combining the causes of the operational problems that were been detected for an operational problem in a random way. The random combinations of the causes for each operational problem had been schematically displayed to form a fault tree.

4.3.2. Fault Trees Construction

During this phase, fault trees were been used as a “knowledge acquisition platform”. Specifically, during the meetings with each domain expert, the schematically random combination of causes mentioned above was been displayed to the experts, who, afterwards, were been attempting to validate, change or erase the available data and update the fault tree structure with any knowledge that was missing. During this time the experts were been thinking in loud. Their thoughts were recorded and the knowledge engineer was trying to understand the way and the mechanism based on which each detected reason contributes to the operational problem. At the end of this process, a new “correct” fault tree was been created, displaying all possible causes of the corresponding operational problem and also the way these could trigger it. At the end of every meeting, the derived knowledge was being summarized and the experts were making further suggestions on it. 22

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The knowledge that was mapped in the fault trees constitutes the knowledge base of LOMA. Figures 2 and 3 display the derived fault trees for the operational problems “CORRODIBLE SOIL COVER” and “UNCONTROLLED STORM WATER FLOW”. The gray rectangular that can be seen in Figure 2 represents the top event of Figure 3. This example shows how one operational problem can be a cause to another. It actually shows how a cascading failure or “domino effect” can be generated. The assumption of independence of the top events in this example is valid because these are referring to different subsystems of the landfill, which are not affected by the same operational parameters. The later is referred to the inner and perimeter drainage systems of a landfill while the former is referred to the soil cover system of a landfill. The use of fault trees as knowledge acquisition platform had the following advantages: 1. Helped the communication between the knowledge engineer and the domain expert, 2. Helped knowledge engineer to understand better the interrelationships of the system components, 3. Displayed in a very functional manner the combinations of causes that could lead to a problem, 4. Helped the dialogue among the domain experts and the personnel that happen to attain the meeting, when they were expressing different opinions upon a landfill operational problem.

4.4 Categorization of early warnings
After fault tree analysis completion, a categorization of the basic events, which were considered to be early warning signals, was made. The identified early warning signals were 88 in total. The categorization process resulted in defining nine categories like warnings associated with the collection vehicles, the gas and leachate management, the infrastructure, the soil cover, the


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characteristics and quality of the incoming waste etc. The categories with the most signals, around 12% each, were been those associated with the characteristics of waste and with the leachate management system, followed by those associated with the characteristics of the infrastructure, with around 9%. This categorization clearly shows the importance of design and construction phases in the proper and undisturbed operation of landfills. It shows also that bad design and/or construction of some landfill components, which cannot be redesigned or reconstructed but were noticed at a specific time frame, can be defined immediately as early warnings for the operation phase. Therefore, there are links between LOMA landfill design and construction issues and a future goal could be to integrate planning and construction in one generic methodology and system.

An ES shell is a complete ES (i.e. provides all the modules of the ES) without any stored knowledge in its knowledge base. During LOMA’s development, a research for available expert system toolkits was conducted and 17 free and commercial available ES shells were spotted such as for example the systems CLIPS (2007) and Jess (2007). Basic selection criteria were: a) implementation of fuzzy sets to the reasoning process, b) available alternatives for organization of the acquired knowledge, c) knowledge representation capabilities like rules frames etc, d) available alternative procedures to give a conclusion ask questions, d) technical support, e) cost, f) user friendliness. Based on the above criteria the flex expert system toolkit (LPA, 1996) with the Flint fuzzy logic toolkit (LPA, 2005) by Logic Programming Associates Ltd was chosen.

A main task during the development phase of LOMA was to represent the developed fault trees in to the knowledge base in a way that it could be possible to estimate the occurrence possibility of the operational problems and to provide advice and emergency response actions, given by the user a subjective evaluation value on the status of basic events. In below, a brief description of the 24

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knowledge representations components of LOMA and of how the notion of possibility can be incorporated with the fault tree analysis will be made. In addition, in this section the notions of “possibility”, “linguistic value” and “fuzzy importance measure” will be described because are necessary to understand the structure and the operation of LOMA. This task was done by the programmer engineer with the assistance of the knowledge engineer and the system architect.

6.1. Knowledge Representation in LOMA
An important knowledge representation component that is used in LOMA, are the production rules. However, the main knowledge representation scheme in LOMA is the frame. Frames allow data to be stored in an abstract manner within a nested hierarchy with common properties automatically inherited through the hierarchy (LPA, 1996). In real world, every object has several attributes. According to this, frames have several attributes forming the slots of the frame. In LOMA’s case, the concepts of “basic event” and “top event” have been represented as frames, as Figure 4 illustrates. Each frame has a number of slots that represent some attributes like the user input value, the possibility value, the corresponding advice etc. In addition to rules and frames, LOMA uses directives and procedures to manage and search the stored knowledge. These are listed bellow (LPA, 1996). • Actions: A collection of directives that a system performs. • Questions - Answers: The question-answer system allows final applications to query the user for additional input via interactive dialogs. • Demons: A procedure which can be attached to an attribute of a frame. It is automatically invoked whenever the value for that slot changes.


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6.2. Incorporating Fuzzy Fault Trees
Fuzzy fault trees can be used to estimate the possibility of the top events, if the possibilities of basic events are known using the formulas {1} and {2}. This is the fundamental principal behind LOMA’s operation. For example, taking into consideration the fault tree of Figure 3, and applying the formulas {1} and {2} accordingly, it is possible to estimate the possibility of the problem “UNCONTROLLED STORM WATER FLOW” (Pflow), if the possibilities Pos(E1), Pos(E2)…Pos(E8) of the corresponding basic events are known.

Posflow = Pos(E1)⊗[1 [1 [1 [1 Pos(E2) ⊗Pos(E3)]⊗[1 [1 [1 Pos(E4)] ⊗

[1 Pos(E5)]]]]]⊗[1 Pos(E6)⊗[1 [1 Pos(E7)]⊗[1 Pos(E8)]]]]


In LOMA’s case the estimated possibility denotes the ease by which the landfill operation can fail, and is expressed with a fuzzy set. This perception regarding the possibility notion was proposed by Zadeh (1978). Figure 1 expresses the fuzzy set “Low possibility”. One way to interpret this fuzzy set is the following: Given that the possibility of occurrence of an (basic) event is “low” its “proposed” possibility value is the pm. However, there are also additional values satisfying the properties of the set “low” to a degree (in the case of Figure 1, the values from pl to pm and the values from pm to pr) and that is why these values have a lower membership value than the pm. These values are also triggered whenever the user of LOMA subjectively evaluates the reliability of a basic event as “low”. In this case, the use of possibility instead of probability notion was necessary mainly because there wasn’t any available “failure” data of the landfill components.

6.3. Linguistic Inputs and Membership Functions
In LOMA, the user inputs to each variable are words (i.e. rather high, low, etc.) and not real number. Each word input is expressed with a fuzzy set analogous to Figure 1. Thus, the variables in LOMA are 26

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linguistics. Each word input expresses the subjective reliability evaluation made by the user regarding the corresponding basic event. The concepts of linguistic variables are very useful in dealing with situations which are too complex or too ill-defined to be reasonably described in conventional quantitative expressions (Lin et al., 1997). The goal was that the above method could be utilized during the scheduled meetings with experts. However, it proofed to be very time consuming and irritating to landfill managers. For that reason, a literature review contacted to point out any suggestions regarding the expression of possibility notion by using linguistic values. In Table 2 a list of papers is displayed, outlining linguistic values to express: Probability, Severity, Detectability of failure, risk assessment judgment of failure probability, and failure possibility respectively. LOMA’ s possibility input values were selected to be the ones proposed by (Lin et al., 1997), mainly because: a) after consulting the experts, the use of seven input values by the system was considered to be more familiar to the user, b) a decision was made to use linear membership functions, which were evaluated during the validation of the system, because in the corresponding literature there wasn’t any proposed expression for the possibility notion regarding linguistic values for use in this research field. In Figure 5 the values of the linguistic variables of LOMA are displayed, where x axis denotes the possibility values of the basic events.

6.4. Prioritizing Advice and Emergency Response Actions
LOMA utilizes the notion of fuzzy importance measure to evaluate the contribution of basic events to the corresponding operational problem and through that to prioritize the available advice and the emergency response actions. In Figure 4, the slots of the concept “basic event” that is instance of the frame “event” have been shown, in which the advice and the fuzzy importance measure (indicated as “fim”) are included. During its operation, LOMA calculates the fuzzy importance measure values of the basic events of 27

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the fault trees. It then displays to the user the advice that is related to each basic event of the operational problem in a ranking manner (this issue is discussed in detail in § 8 and 9). In this case, the fuzzy importance measure value of each basic event is the ranking criterion. Since it is true by definition that the higher the fuzzy importance measure value of a basic event the more it contributes to the problem occurrence, it is reasonable to conclude that the priority level of the advice or of the emergency response action that is related to it has to be in a higher place than the advice that is related with a basic event that has smaller fuzzy importance measure value. By following this rule LOMA can prioritize the advices that are stored in its knowledge base, given the circumstances in a landfill.

7. LOMA ARCHITECTURE 7.1. General Structure
LOMA is consisting of four main components: the web interface layer, the database component, the inference engine and the knowledge base, as shown in Figure 6. The knowledge base is described in detailed in the next section. The web interface layer is composed of static and dynamic web pages containing HTML objects. The web pages are having a role similar to the user interface component in a classical expert system. The users can activate, through navigating the web pages, the early warning and the knowledge dissemination services of LOMA. They can also contribute in enriching the knowledge base of LOMA by filling a set of web forms. The database component serves as repository for facts and information that are related to landfill operational problems. It is used also as repository for the information submitted by the users on these problems. When this happens members of the development team are forwarding the


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information to the experts for validation and after that process the experts are informing the development team which information should be represented and stored to the system. The inference engine provides the operations and procedures which are applied on the knowledge represented in to the knowledge base component of the system in order to infer explicit knowledge. The intelligence of LOMA is implemented through the inference engine and it is based on the following Artificial Intelligence reasoning methods, which are used in state of the art Expert Systems applications (Tomic et al. 2006; Shiue et al. 2007; Mickovski et al 2005). • Forward and backward chaining: The knowledge base of LOMA (see §7.2) consists of rule bases which are searched by the inference engine of the Flex ES shell. The inference engine is using forward and backward chaining methods. These methods are widely used in artificial intelligent technologies for inferring implied knowledge from a set of production rules, facts and user inputs. These methods are herein involved in performing the fuzzy fault tree analysis illustrated above, as well as in performing all calculations related to fuzzy importance measures and risk analysis estimations based on possibility theory as shown in next sections 7,8. • Inheritance in frames: In a frame hierarchy a subframe can inherit the attribute values from the superframe, according to some inheritance strategy. Thus in frames the most important reasoning task is the subsumption between two concepts, that is, determining whether all instances of one concept are necessarily instances of the other concept taking into account the definitions of the concepts represented with frames.

• Data driven algorithms: The inheritance of the characteristics of the frames is done automatically, but it can be controlled using different data driven algorithms. The demons for example, which were used widely in LOMA’s knowledge base (see § 7.2), are a type of such algorithms.


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7.2 Knowledge Base Structure
The structure of LOMA’s knowledge base, is schematically displayed in Figure 7. Each operational problem that was analysed and represented with a fault tree was mapped in to LOMA’s knowledge base as a distinct “operational problem module”. All operational problem modules are connected with a set of events that are called “starting events” via a “central module”. A starting event is an event that has been noticed by the user and it can trigger one or more operational problems. A starting event can be seen as an “early warning signal”. A basic event of a fault tree can be a starting event. Referring to the Figures 2 and 3, which both have the basic event “rainy weather”; if it is raining during the landfill operation and the user selects the event “rainy weather” as a starting event, then the system is able to inform him that both operational problems could happen. In some occasions however, the starting events are events that constitute a basic event. For example, one basic event of the operational problem “ODOR” is the “disposal of malodorous waste”, in this case the starting events that constitute the concept of malodorous waste to the operational problem “ODOR” could be the disposal of seaweeds, dead animals, sludge, cannery wastes etc. The central module is activated whenever the user activates LOMA. In the beginning, the central module activates a question urging the user to select a starting event category from a list (see the 1st stage in § 9). Each starting event category forms a frame. The slots of the frame are the starting events of the corresponding category. Every frame of a starting event category has also one extra slot. The extra slot value changes whenever the user selects the corresponding category from the displayed list; using a set of rules. This gives to the user the ability to choose several starting events from the starting event categories. Afterwards, the central module activates a set of production rules to define which operational problem is possible to occur. These rules are checking if there are identical starting events between the user’s selected set and each set activates a specific operational problem. By using the same set


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of rules the system displays the possible operational problems (see the 2nd stage in § 9). Depending on the user answer the central module activates the corresponding operational problem module. The modular structure of the knowledge base was chosen because was proved to be easier, whenever updates or changes were made regarding a specific operational problem. Moreover, this structure improved the system’s response time. All operational problem modules follow the same structure. Each module consists of a frame set, a set of questions, a set of demons, a set of actions and a set of rules. Depending on the operational problem, some modules have one additional set of rules informing the user that the analyzed problem contributes to the occurrence of other operational problems. As it was shown in Figure 4, the concepts of “top event” and “basic event” are represented as frames. Each frame has the following attributes/slots 1) name, 2) LDV, 3) LTV, 4) RTV, 5) RDV, 6) user_input. Moreover, the frames that represent basic events have two extra attributes. The first extra attribute refers to the corresponding advice/emergency response action. The second extra attribute refers to the corresponding fuzzy importance measure. The first extra attribute helps to manage the advice set in LOMA’s knowledge base. The second extra attribute is used to calculate the fuzzy importance measure that is used by LOMA to display to the user the advice associated to the operational problems in a ranking order as it has been described in § 6.4. The number of the questions in each module is proportional to the number of basic events of the corresponding operational problem. The questions are referring to subjects which are declared by the corresponding basic events of the fault trees. Also, in every module specific sets of actions are activated by the system to: a) display the questions to the user, b) calculate the estimated possibility value of the top event, c) calculate the fuzzy importance measure of all basic events. When a specific operational problem module is activated, the system displays the question set to the user (see the 3rd stage in § 9). Each question updates the user_input value for the corresponding


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basic event frame. The user inputs are the linguistic values shown in Figure 5. Based on the user input, and by using the demon set of the activated module, the quadruplet frame attribute of the basic events [LDV, LTV, RTV, RDV] changes. Specifically, whenever the value of the user_input slot is updated the changes of the quadruplet occur immediately after the update, due to the demons. These quadruplets correspond to specific possibility values as it can be seen in Figure 8. Afterwards, the system activates a set of actions. These actions are: a) estimating the possibility of the top event based on the expressions {1} and {2}, b) calculating the importance measure of the basic events based on the expression {3}, c) updating the quadruplet attribute values [LDV, LTV, RTV, RDV] of the top event frame, d) updating the values of the importance measure attribute of all the basic event frames. At this point the system displays the user inputs and the estimated failure possibility to the user (see the 4th stage in § 9). The estimated possibility ranges between the LTV and the RTV attribute values of the top event frame. During the prototype development the system utilized a defuzzification method displaying one specific failure possibility value to the user. This method was changed after suggestions made by the landfill managers. More specifically, the landfill managers were preferring to have the system propose a range of the estimated failure possibility rather than a specific value. Finally, the system asks the user if would like advice regarding the operational problem. If the user consents, the system activates a specific action by using a rule, and displays the advice in a ranking order, based on the basic events corresponding to fuzzy importance measure values (see the 5th stage in § 9). In some cases one more action and rule set is activated in order to inform the user that the analyzed operational problem could cause other operational problems.

Table 3 shows the failure possibility of the top event of Figure 3 for two different sets of subjective evaluations of the corresponding basic events. These subjective evaluations are in fact two different 32

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input sets in the LOMA system. Each input set is needed to calculate the failure possibility of the top event by using {4}. Table 3 displays also the calculated fuzzy important measure values for α-level = 1 for each basic event and based on these values the rank of the corresponding advice is shown. For the first set of inputs the failure possibility of the top event (i.e. the range between the LTV and RTV values of the top event) ranges from 0.79 to 0.80. For the second input set the failure possibility ranges from 0.48 to 0.56. This means that the operation of the landfill with respect to the operational problem shown in Figure 3 is significantly less reliable given the first set of inputs in comparison to the second input set. Table 4 displays the results from the same basic events input sets. However, in this case the fuzzy sets used to map the linguistic values are different as Figure 9 shows. The range of the calculated failure possibility of the top event for the first input set is the same to the one shown in Table 3. For the second input set, the proposed failure possibility of the top event is 0.52, which is the median value of the range proposed in Table 3. From the calculated fuzzy important measure values it is obvious that the measure of one basic event depends basically upon: a) its position on the fault tree, b) its relation with the top event, c) its corresponding value. For the first input set, the advice rank of every basic event in both tables is the same, while for the second input set there was as shift in the places 5 and 6 between the advice of the basic events E2, E3 and E8. These numbers are showing the effect on the final result of LOMA, if the membership functions had different shape. Obviously the results are different in some cases but these differences are not so significant in terms of forcing us to change the originally selected membership functions. Nevertheless, the data collection regarding the optimum shape determination of the linguistic values, as well as the determination of the corresponding defuzzification method of LOMA is a future research goal.


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Although the shape determination of the membership functions is a bottleneck, there is no doubt regarding the usefulness of linguistic variables in this case. The linguistic values provide a very effective communication between the system and the user, especially in cases like landfill operation, where the inputs aren’t easily measurable quantities and there isn’t any past data to allow the use of probabilities. With linguistic variables the system can use the natural language to give a conclusion. If crisp numbers were used as inputs, the results of LOMA would be also crisp numbers. Such inputoutput relations are all the LDV, LTV, RTV, RDV rows of the Tables 3 and 4. The user confusion between the notion of probability and possibility was a rising problem regarding the use of crisp inputs. Consequently, the results were usually misinterpreted. The confusion of these notions made the experts to suggest that the system should propose a range of failure possibility.

A presentation of LOMA’s operation is outlined in below. The fault tree shown in Figure 3 is used in an illustrative scenario. The scenario has as follows. An inexperienced landfill manager has been informed that heavy rain is approaching. Given this early warning signal the landfill manager is “sensing” that problems might occur in the landfill but he does not know exactly what might happen. Therefore he is seeking information about the: a) potential landfill operational problems due to heavy rain, b) degree to which the landfill is “vulnerable” with respect to a specific problem (in this example the problem is the top event in Figure 3) , c) advice on how to react to each problem. To find the help and guidance that he is looking for, he is using LOMA. LOMA’s operation can be divided in five stages (see also the brief description in http://loma.civil.duth.gr/occurrence_intro.htm). 1st stage: The landfill manager is accessing LOMA’s web site and activates the EWS. At first the system is urging the landfill manager to choose one or several starting events that currently occur or are expected to occur in his landfill. The 88 starting events that currently are stored in LOMA's 34

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knowledge base are listed in 12 categories, such as, the collection vehicles, the working front, the landfill gas, etc. The user is able to choose several events from these categories. At this stage the central module described in § 7.2 is activated by the inference engine. 2nd stage: Based on the selected starting events the system is displaying a list of possible operational problems. Afterwards, the user can choose a problem from a list for further analysis. In this scenario, the starting event is the “rainy weather”, the list of the possible operational problems is shown in Figure 10 and the landfill manager selects the “UNCONTROLED STORM WATER FLOW” for further analysis. 3rd stage: The system activates the operational problem module that analyses the problem selected by the user for further analysis. Then the system is asking for more information regarding the working conditions in the landfill. The questions are referring to the basic events of a corresponding fault tree.. Referring to the scenario, the system activates the operational problem module that analyse the “UNCONTROLED STORM WATER FLOW” operational problem and ask information about the corresponding basic events. The landfill manager provides the first set of linguistic inputs shown in Table 3. 4th stage: Whenever the entire question set of a corresponding operational problem is answered, the system is displaying the estimated failure possibility. At this stage in the scenario, LOMA displays the estimated possibility of the top event as it is shown in Figure 11. 5th stage: If the user wants, the system can display a corresponding set of advice and/or emergency response procedures. Referring to the scenario and as it can be seen in Figure 12, each advice corresponds to a specific basic event. Also, the corresponding solutions are displayed in a ranking manner based on the fuzzy importance measure value of each basic event. Moreover, the system informs the user if the analyzed problem could possibly generate any other operational problem/s.


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Validation is the process of checking whether the software system meets the actual requirements of the users (Peers, 2001). The validation of LOMA was performed for one-month period in a different landfill than the one in which the knowledge acquisition took place. This strategy was chosen mainly, because LOMA had the opportunity to be evaluated, not only regarding the contents of the knowledge base, but also for user friendliness and ease of operation by different landfill managers. The validation was contacted in the landfill of the city of Larisa in Greece which serves around 160.000 inhabitants, covers an estimated area of 80 ha, receives around 60,000 tons/year of waste and follows a quite similar process of landfilling to Thessalonika’s landfill that was used for observation during the knowledge acquisition process. Specifically, the validation process was completed in two phases. The goal of the first phase was to validate the fault trees in terms of their completeness and structure. The validation process was done following a semi-structured interview with the landfill manager. In particular, the manager was asked by the tester/validator to describe the causes and also the mechanisms of the operational problems that were analyzed during the knowledge acquisition phase. Several times during this process, the landfill logs and the book of incidents were referred and used. These books however were written in an unstructured way providing useful information however, for identifying the causes of the problems but not their mechanisms. That resulted to the continuation of the semi-structured interview process of the landfill manager as a means of validating the acquired knowledge. During this phase three fault trees were been enriched with new intermediate and basic events and new advice were been added to each basic event. This resulted to add additional basic event frames in the knowledge base, to add extra starting events in the central module of LOMA, and to accordingly change the formula that calculates the possibility of the top event in the corresponding operational problem module. In addition, in five fault trees a logic gate


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has been modified from OR to AND and vice versa. This resulted to apply some changes to the formula that calculates the top event possibility in the corresponding operational problem module. The aim of the second phase was to compare LOMA performance with respect to a set of test cases. The only precondition for these test cases was to access LOMA with a dial up connection so that to evaluate the response of the system. The knowledge engineer prepared written test cases in which the step by step actions that had to be done by the landfill managers were written together with the input data and with the expected results. Whenever there was an unexpected result the experts were informing the knowledge engineer and he was recording it. In addition, during this phase the landfill managers were allowed to express their comments on issues like the design of the web interface, if a question could be rephrased or if it was misunderstood etc.

Table 5 displays the suggestion categories made by the experts and the corresponding corrective actions. The majority of corrective actions were implemented immediately after the expert suggestions. The landfill experts didn’t make any corrective suggestions regarding the system advices. In some cases they were thinking to use some of the proposed advices in the field. That was expected, since all advises LOMA uses, have been derived from references displayed on Table 1. Moreover, the experts characterized the developed system as: a) a useful tool for the inexperienced landfill manager, because correlates events that are common during landfill operations (i.e. starting events) with several operational problems and provides advice. b) reliable, because their possibility estimations had no significant differences in comparison with the ones proposed by LOMA. The experts made this comment only when they apprehended the meaning of the output (i.e. the ease with which the operation can fail, and


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not how possible is any operational failure). This comment was the reason to maintain the membership functions shown in Figure 5. c) easy of use, since LOMA’ s user interface is a browser, d) friendly to use, since LOMA provide explanations to several questions and provide interpretation regarding the final result. e) easy to upgrade, since the availability of the ES through the Internet can keep the developers constantly up to date with new knowledge, provided by world experts in the form of comments. The field testing of the system proved to be very beneficial on the following points: a) error identification and correction of the knowledge base, b) improvements regarding the system response, c) addition of starting events, d) user friendliness related improvements. Additionally to the validation phases described above, the development team has created a database of synthetic events of landfill operational problems, based on descriptions of real landfill problems found in traditional media and in sources in the world wide web. The developed database includes around 70 synthetic events which are in fact deterministic scenarios of potential landfill operational problems. In below, we briefly present the method of developing the synthetic events and the way of validating the knowledge base of LOMA with these. As example is used the problem “SUBSURFACE FIRE” At first we searched for case histories in subsurface fires in landfills. A significant number of case histories for landfill fires were found in the landfillfire web site [Landfillfire, 2007]. Specifically in the Vancouver landfill fire that occurred on the 18th of October 2000 the forensic review established concluded that the fire was triggered by spontaneous compaction of the buried combustible material. Gaps in the intermediate cover soil allowed entry of oxygen into the waste promoting high


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temperature aerobic decomposition, exothermic pyrolysis and eventually a full scale fire. The information about the causes of the operation problem was stored in the data base. The database has the format shown in Table 6. Afterwards LOMA was tested against the database of the synthetic events in terms of the degree to which the causes and the early warning signals stored in the database were able to be identified by LOMA whenever the corresponding operation problems were analyzed by it. In almost all analyzed operational problems LOMA identified 80 to 100% of the causes and the early warning signals of the synthetic event database. There was one exception with respect to the event of injuries of personnel. That was partially expected due to the large number of coincidences that can occur and could cause personnel injuries in different phases of landfill operations. Regarding this operational problem it was concluded that additional analysis is required to be included in the knowledge base of LOMA.

This paper was made having as objective to look the potential of providing an early warning service, similar to ones that would be given by environmental protection agency personnel to an inexperienced landfill manager, using known technologies like ES, fault tree analysis and possibility theory. Additional goal was to disseminate the acquired knowledge about operational problems in landfills to a wide group of people who is interested for it. The development and operation of LOMA has proved that these objectives can be met combining together the selected technologies. LOMA is the first intelligent system providing early warning services in the context of SWM. A significant advantage of LOMA and of its methodology is that uses fault tree analysis, a well known and widely used risk and reliability analysis technique, as basis for knowledge acquisition, modelling and representation. This characteristic makes the development methodology of LOMA easier to grasp by a wider group of developers. Another advantage is that the knowledge represented in it can 39

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be used by the public who is interested in landfill operations. This characteristic of the methodology is very convenient from the point of view of organizations that are obliged to accord with legislative frameworks similar to the European Union’s Directive (2003/4/EC). We argue, however, that LOMA services can be enhanced significantly. In particular, there are thoughts on adding to future versions of LOMA additional services. For example, an on line knowledge acquisition facility used by authorised users looks feasible to be implemented. The implementations of a web forum and a wiki aiming at enhancing the analysis of common operational problems by the users, in a way that will not affect the functionality of the early warning service looks also very feasible. In addition, thoughts on looking at deeper in some concepts like monitoring, simulation and forecasting and at how all these can be integrated with LOMA are looking to be feasible. Also some thoughts on providing support in predicting conditions that are evolving with time in landfills have been considered. One way to do this is by establishing access between the knowledge base of LOMA and mathematical models that can forecast evolutionary behaviour of the conditions of interest, whenever specific operational preconditions are met. The support of real time monitoring at the operational level of the organization has been considered. This feature in particular looks feasible to be implemented in a future version of LOMA following the model presented in (Goodall et al., 2008). Among LOMA’s goals was to propagate the knowledge on landfill problems. Regarding this service the web statistics are showing that, in average, around 170 unique users are visiting LOMA each month seeking information and knowledge on landfill operational problems, while around 35% of those bookmark LOMA. This is an indicator showing that there is a need for a knowledge dissemination service on landfill operations and, as it was expected, the web is a very effective technology to satisfy that need. However, these statistics impose to us to think of ways to extent the service levels not only form the artificial intelligence point of view but also from the web


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engineering point of view in order to improve the web interface in terms of usability and accessibility but also in terms of information quality. In concluding, this paper has proved that knowledge based systems can provide early warning services in the SWM case. It has also described some methodological elements in supporting the development of knowledge based early warning services, which are generated and directed from the strategic level of an organization. The main novel characteristic of LOMA, compared to the related EWS is that of the use of fault trees and frames as knowledge modelling, representation and reasoning technologies respectively. This difference has allowed LOMA to be configured so that to assess the possibility of occurrence of operational problems, and in addition to this, to provide a very valuable service that the other EWS do not provide, which is the listings of corrective actions and emergency response procedures to operational problems in a ranking manner thanks to the proper use of the fuzzy importance measure. These actions can be implemented by the personnel of the organization at the tactical and operational level to avoid or to reduce their risk and to be prepared for effective response but also by the people living close to landfills, which are affected by their operations. By providing this extra service, LOMA complies more with the definition of EWS when compared to the relevant systems. In light of this, it can be concluded also that fault tree analysis looks very promising in its use as a basis of a graphical notation platform within a knowledge acquisition, modelling and representation framework for EWS in engineering facilities. Our future work is focused on further investigating the potential of fault trees so that to be used as a modelling and designing platform for EWS. Finally, a major future research task is to design and investigate suitable methodologies on how the proposed system could be customized or adapted to changing landfill conditions through being equipped with learning capabilities


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We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments helping us in improving significantly the manuscript. We would like to acknowledge also the personnel in the landfills we were visited, for their help and guidance, and especiallyDr. K. Alivani and Th. Peridi. Dr. Dokas, during the last phases of this work, was supported by the research project SCEWA (Grand No 2007-DRP-2-S5), funded by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency under the DERP grand scheme.

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Figure 1. Membership function of a fuzzy set

Figure 2. The “CORRODIBLE SOIL COVER” fault tree


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Figure 3. The “UNCONTROLLED STORM WATER FLOW” fault tree

Figure 4: The concepts of “event” “basic event” “top event” represented in LOMA’s knowledge base using frames


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Figure 5. Fuzzy sets representing linguistic values. Source (Lin et al., 1997)

Figure 6. The architecture of LOMA


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Figure 7. The Structure of the knowledge base


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Figure 8. The quadruplet [LDV, LTV, RTV, RDV]

Figure 9. Alternative fuzzy sets of the linguistic values


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Figure 10. List of possible operational problems


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Figure 11. The estimated range of failure possibility based on the user inputs


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Figure 12. An example of prioritizing the advice based on the fuzzy importance measure


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Table 1: References to: a) landfill operation b) specific operational problems c) advice/solutions about operational problems
Reference (Bass, 1986) (Feliubadalό, 1995) (Mc Bean et al., 1995) (McKendry, 1995) (Wilhelm, 1995) (Krom, 1997) (Milanov et al., 1997) (ISWA, 1998) (SWANA, 1998) (ISWA Working Group on Sanitary Landfill, 1999) (Koerner, 2000) (UK Environment Agency, 2002) (UK Environment Agency, 2002) (Bolton, 2002) Landfillfire.com Title Avoiding Failure of Leachate Collection and Cap Drainage Systems Landfill Fires: A Review Solid Waste Landfill Engineering and Design Environmental Pollution: The Origins OF Wind-Borne Litter Fire Protection and Fire Fighting on Landfill Sites Consequences of Excluding Specific Kinds of Waste on Landfill Stability Waste Slope Failure Analysis at the Rabastens Landfill Site Guidance for Landfilling Waste in Economically Developing Countries Training Sanitary Landfill Operating Personnel Operations Guidelines Leachate in Landfills: The Stability Issues Νoise Guidance Odor Guidance Dealing With Offensive Loads Landfill fire case histories Document Type Book Type of Reference b and c

Conference proceedings b and c Book a and c Conference proceedings b Conference proceedings b and c Conference proceedings b Conference proceedings b and c Book Training Document Guidelines Journal paper Control Guidance Control Guidance Electronic journal Web site with case histories a, b and c a, b and c a, b and c b and c b and c b and c b and c b

Table 2: Scientific papers providing membership functions for linguistic variables
Reference (Pillay et al., 2003) (Cho et al., 2002) (Yuhua et al., 2005) (Lin et al., 1997) Subject of linguistic variables probability, severity, detectability of failure risk assessment Failure probability judgment Failure possibility Numbers of values 5 6 5 7


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Table 3. Estimated possibility value of the problem “UNCONTROLLED STORM WATER FLOW” for two different inputs sets, using the membership functions of Figure 6 and the corresponding values of the fuzzy importance measures for α-level =1
1 Input Set
Basic Event Linguistic Value (Input Set 1) LDV LTV RTV RDV Importance Measure Advice Rank E1 High 0.7 0.8 0.8 0.9 1.405 1 E2 Medium 0.4 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.002 6 E3 Low 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.006 5 E4 Very High 0.8 0.9 1 1 0.145 2 E5 High 0.7 0.8 0.8 0.9 0.055 3 E6 E7 Failure Possibility of Top Medium Event 0.4 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.002 6 0.67 0.79 0.80 0.90 E8

Fairly Low Fairly High 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.012 4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.002 6

2 Input Set
Basic Event E1 E2 E3 E4 E5 E6 Low 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.213 3 E7 High 0.7 0.8 0.8 0.9 0.213 4 Linguistic Value Fairly High Very Low Very Low (Input Set 2) LDV LTV RTV RDV Importance Measure Advice Rank 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 1.128 1 0 0 0.1 0.2 0.014 5 0 0 0.1 0.2 0.014 5 Failure Possibility of Top Fairly High Event 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.009 6 0.34 0.48 0.56 0.71 E8


Medium Medium 0.4 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.373 2 0.4 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.373 2


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Table 4. Failure possibility of the problem “UNCONTROLLED STORM WATER FLOW” for two different inputs sets using the membership functions of Figure 9 and the corresponding values of the fuzzy importance measure for the α-level =1
1 Input Set
Basic Event Linguistic Value (Input Set 1) LDV LTV RTV RDV Importance Measure Advice Rank E1 High 0.65 0.8 0.8 0.95 1.410 1 E2 Medium 0.35 0.5 0.5 0.65 0.001 6 E3 Low 0.05 0.2 0.2 0.35 0.003 5 E4 Very High 0.8 0.95 1 1 0.145 2 E5 High 0.65 0.8 0.8 0.95 0.026 3 E6 E7 Fairly Low Fairly High 0.2 0.35 0.35 0.5 0.006 4 0.5 0.65 0.65 0.8 0.001 6 Failure Possibility of Medium Top Event 0.35 0.5 0.5 0.65 0.001 6 0.61 0.79 0.80 0.95 E8

2 Input Set
Basic Event Linguistic Value (Input Set 2) LDV LTV RTV RDV Importance Measure Advice Rank E1 E2 E3 E4 E5 E6 Low 0.05 0.2 0.2 0.35 0.213 3 E7 High 0.65 0.8 0.8 0.95 0.016 4 Fairly High Very Low Very Low 0.5 0.65 0.65 0.8 1.127 1 0 0 0.05 0.2 0.007 6 0 0 0.05 0.2 0.007 6 Medium Medium 0.35 0.5 0.5 0.65 0.374 2 0.35 0.5 0.5 0.65 0.374 2 Failure Possibility of Fairly High Top Event 0.5 0.65 0.65 0.8 0.009 5 0.30 0.52 0.52 0.74 E8



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Table 5: Problem categories identified by the experts during the validation of the system and the corresponding corrective actions
No 1 Problem Categories Specific questions were vague Corrective Action Explanations were added to the questions pointed out by the experts. The explanations are available to the user via an explain button The knowledge base module was divided to operational problem modules (see §7 and 9). Before that, all the modules of the system were part of one module Explanation of the failure possibility notion was added. This explanation is available via a link, whenever the system displays the estimated failure possibility of the operational faults Correction of the starting event sets that were activating the corresponding operational problem modules The central module was updated with extra starting event category frames Update of the starting event set that activates the corresponding operational problem Correction of the corresponding demon set, or correction of the failure possibility mathematical expression, based on the corresponding derived fault tree. Correction of the corresponding rules of the central module


Quicker system response


Explanation regarding the failure possibility notion is needed Wrong activation of operational faults after the selection of specific starting events Development of extra starting event categories Addition of starting event/s for the activation of specific operational problems Wrong calculations during the failure possibility estimation Wrong operational problem activation whenever the user was selecting a specific fault for further analysis from the corresponding list

4 5 6



Table 6: Data for the synthetic event “SUBSURFACE FIRE” Problem Cause Warning signals Subsurface Spontaneous compaction Elevated temperatures fire Smoke or combustion gases escape out of fissures Higher than normal levels of CO and O2 Gaps in the intermediate Partially covered or uncovered waste cover soil Unsatisfactory compaction of the soil cover Combustible material Organic material buried in landfill


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