ALL LANDFILL LINERS
AND LEACHATE COLLECTION SYSTEMS WILL FAIL ...
"First, even the best liner
and leachate collection system will ultimately fail due to
natural deterioration, and recent improvements in MSWLF
containment technologies suggest that releases may be delayed by
many decades at some landfills. For this reason, the Agency is
concerned that while corrective action may have already been
triggered at many facilities, 30 years may be insufficient to
detect releases at other landfills." Source:
US EPA Federal Register, Aug 30, 1988, Vol.53, No.168, (scanned document). Check-out Peter Montegue's Rachel's for list of other comments in Federal Register by EPA.
The U.S. has 3,091 active landfills and over
10,000 old municipal landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. However, in the
"good old days," every town (and many businesses and
factories) had its own dump. According to the 1997 U.S. Census, there are
39,044 general purpose local governments in the United States -
3,043 county governments and 36,001 subcounty general purpose
governments (towns & townships). One suspects that there are
many more old and abandoned commercial, private, and municipal
dumps than the 10,000 estimated by the EPA.Municipal landfills and their leachate (water) and
air emissions are hazardous. Municipal landfills can accept hazardous waste
under federal law. An unlimited number of 'conditionally exempt small
generators' of hazardous waste have access to municipal landfills. (See
40 CFR 261.5).
All landfills will eventually fail and leak leachate into ground and surface water. Plastics are not inert. State-of-the-art plastic (HDPE) landfill liners (1/10 inch or 100 mils thick) and plastic pipes allow chemicals and gases to pass through their membranes, become brittle, swell, and breakdown.
surveyed landfill cells had leaks while 41% had a leak area of more than 1
square feet," according to Leak
Location Services, Inc. (LLSI) website (March 15, 2000).
According to Dr. Fred Lee, "detection in new landfills can be difficult since the only way to know this is detection in the monitoring wells. The likelihood of a monitoring well at a single or double lined landfill detecting an initial leak is very small." Monitoring wells should be located in areas most likely to detect contamination (i.e., testing the ground water after it has passed under the landfill.) See: Subchapter I: Solid Waste. Lined landfills leak in very narrow plumes, whereas old, unlined landfills will produce wide plumes of leachate.
Old and new landfills are typically
located next to large bodies of water (i.e., rivers, lakes, bays,
etc), making leakage detection and remediation (clean-up)
extremely difficult. This is due to the incursion of surface
water in both instances. Federal and state governments have
allowed landfill operators to locate landfills next to water
bodies under the misguided principle: Detection by monitoring wells
can also be very difficult at lined landfills. Lined landfills
leak in very narrow plumes, whereas old, unlined landfills will
produce wide plumes of leachate.
Ground water flows downstream, or toward nearby
lakes and rivers. In some cases, monitoring wells have been
located around landfills in areas least likely to detect
leakage (i.e., upstream of the groundwater flow). This is in
violation of federal law. See Code of Federal Regulations
(CFR): Chapter I - Environmental Protection Agency, Subchapter I: Solid Waste / PART 258 (Updated 1997) - Criteria for Municipal
Solid Waste Landfills (Adobe PDF). If a landfill is located next to a water body,
then the monitoring wells should be located between
the landfill and the water; or (if there is no space left), in
the water. See: EPA's
Ground Water Monitoring
All landfills could require remediation, but particularly landfills built in the last 60 years will require a thorough clean-up due to the disposal of highly toxic chemicals manufactured and sold since the 1940's. See:Remediation
|EXPERTS & WEBSITES: |JANUARY 2007: "Lynn, I wish to bring to your attention a new paper has been published on the health effects of hazardous chemical sites such as landfills, where the authors have shown an association between proximity to such sites and increased incidence of hospitalization for diabetes. Please find enclosed a recent write-up that I have prepared on this issue, in which I have included discussion of the diabetes paper, as well as an earlier paper on birth defects. If you or others in your group have questions or comments, please contact me."
ALSO: Flawed Technology of Subtitle D Landfilling of Municipal Solid Waste, Report of G. Fred Lee & Associates, El Macero, CA, December (2004). Updated January (2007)
This report is a synthesis of about 23 years of work on dry tomb landfills.
G. Fred Lee, PhD, DEE, AAEE Bd. Cert. Env. Eng. (also expert on construction and demolition debris)
G. Fred Lee & Associates
27298 E. El Macero Dr.
El Macero, CA 95618-1005
Ph 530 753-9630,
Cell 916 712-7399 or 530 400-4952
Fx 530 753-9956 (Turned on upon request)
- Dr. Paul
& Ellen Connett, Ph.D. Chemistry, world renown founders of Work
On Waste http://www.americanhealthstudies.org/wastenot/, 83 Judson Street,
Canton, New York 13617. (FYI-The Connets are now concentrating on the fluoride http://www.fluoridealert.org/). Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-338-5577
- www.Rachel.org - An excellent site. Search for "landfill liners," "landfills," etc.
- Dennis E. Williams, Ph.D., founder and president of GEOSCIENCE Support Services, Inc., 1326 Monte Vista Avenue, Suite 3, P.O. Box 220, Claremont, CA 91711, (909) 920-0707, formed in 1978 to provide consulting to the ground water industry. Dr. Williams has over 30 years of experience in ground water consulting, specializing in ground water planning, development and management, with specific emphasis on the ground water basins of Southern California.LANDFILLS THAT LEAK
- International Geosynthetics Society & Other Geotechnical Sites & RESEARCH PAPERS
SEE: THE BASICS OF LANDFILLS, plus LANDFILL DIAGRAM
"WET" Landfills - BIOREACTORS - cause concerns:
Health Effects of Landfills:
- National Recycling Council By Notice dated April 6, 2000 (65 Fed. Reg. 18014), the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") requested comments and information concerning the design and performance of so-called "bioreactor landfills." We are writing in response to this request on behalf of our client, the National Recycling Coalition, Inc. (the "Coalition"). CARTER, LEDYARD & MILBURN
- Government "pro-bioreactor" info:
- Landfills That Leak by Dennis E. Williams, Ph.D founder and president of GEOSCIENCE Support Services, Inc., 1326 Monte Vista Avenue, Suite 3, P.O. Box 220, Claremont, CA 91711, (909) 920-0707, formed in 1978 to provide consulting to the ground water industry. Dr. Williams has over 30 years of experience in ground water consulting, specializing in ground water planning, development and management, with specific emphasis on the ground water basins of Southern California./
- Rachel's #37 (08/10/87): EPA Says All Landfills Leak
- Rachel's # 117 - The Best Landfill Liner: HDPE
- Mechanisms Of Leakage Through Synthetic Landfill Liner Materials Imperial College, Great Britain
- RECYCLING LEACHATE BACK THROUGH A LANDFILL: Based on the available literature,
pumping leachate back through a landfill causes increased
decomposition, and it seems logical that it would also create a
super toxic leachate. In addition, it would most likely
accelerate the decomposition of the liner itself, thereby
allowing leachate to contaminate ground water at an increased
- Rachel's #90 (08/15/88): MSW Leachate As Toxic As Hazardous Waste.
- Low Level Radioactive Waste by Judy Johnsrud, Sierra Club.
- Rachel's #69 (03/21/88): Landfilling Low-Level Radioactive Waste
- Rachel's #371 (01/06/94): Superfund Dumps & Health
- EPA's (CESQG) Page - EPA allows an unlimited number of "Conditionally
Exempt Small Quantity Generators of Hazardous Waste" to dump hazardous
waste in municipal waste landfills.
- Primer on Landfill Gas as "Green" Energy Pennsylvania Environmental Network
Alliance For a Clean Environment (ACE)- This Pennsylvania group has collected a significant amount of information on landfill gas.
TYPICAL CONSTITUENTS AND COMPOUNDS FOUND IN LANDFILL GAS
TABLE 1: Typical Constituents Found in Municipal Solid Waste Landfill Gas
Component Percent (dry volume basis)*
Carbon Dioxide 40-60%
Sulfides, disulfides, mercaptans,etc. 0-0.2%
Carbon Monoxide 0-0.2%
Trace Constituents 0.01-0.6%
* Exact percentage distribution will vary with the age of the landfill.
TABLE 2: Typical Concentrations of Some Trace Compounds Found in Landfill Gas
Component Mean Concentration (pbV, parts per billion by volume)
Ethyl Benzene 7,334
Vinyl Acetate 5,663
Vinyl Chloride 3,508
Methyl Ethyl Ketone 3,092
SOURCE: G. Tchobanoglous, H. Theisen and S. Vigil, "Integrated Solid Waste Management, Engineering Principles and Management Issues," McGraw-Hill, New York, 1993. Shown here as reproduced in J.Wilcos, Ph.D., and W.Clister, "Waiting is Over: Landfills Have Clean Air Act Rules," Solid Waste Technologies, March/April 1996.
Provided by Dan Knapp of Urban Ore, Berkley, California
LANDFILL GAS & FIRE INFORMATION:
Write off for research papers from The University of Kuopio, Eastern Finland:
Directory of papers: http://www.uku.fi/wwwdata/julkaisutoiminta/laitoksittain/ymptiet.html
LANDFILL COVER: The EPA allows the use of toxic incinerator ash as daily landfill cover, instead of soil, as the public was originally told.
LANDFILL DETECTION: Old, grown-over landfills can be identified by using GRP (Ground Penetrating Radar) or by reviewing county or state aerial photographs that often go back to the 1960's.
LANDFILL LOCATIONS: Use TerraServer to locate Areas of Interest
from Satellite Photos!
TULLYTOWN LANDFILL (terraced features, northeast of
center) On the Delaware River, Tullytown, Bucks County, PA. View
this area on Terra Server.