determine the potential impact that the chemical in the leachate

determine the potential impact that the chemical in the leachate

Unit VII Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Assess the political environment as it relates to solid waste and solid waste management.
  2. Summarize laws and standards related to solid waste management.

Reading Assignment Chapter 8: Landfills

Unit Lesson Landfill discussions in an academic setting usually focus on presenting the design criteria and the basic operational aspects of how a landfill works (U.S. Government Printing Office, 2012). What is commonly left out are the regulatory requirements that establish the foundation for the design criteria and the operational processes of the facility. One of the most important requirements is that of recordkeeping and the need to file monthly and annual reports with regulatory and permitting authorities (North Dakota Department of Health, 2014). When a new facility is ready to start up and accept waste at the landfill, the new owner/operator must first submit and receive an approval for an initial report that details the site, the facility design and operation, location maps, plans, schematic drawings, and test results certifying that the design of the facility is in compliance with the requirements of the permit. The initial report must also describe the formal records that are intended to be maintained at the site including a description of the waste categories that will be accepted at the site. Tracking the weights or volumes of the waste will give authorities an indication of the rate that the landfill capacity is being used by the municipality. All official records need to be located and made available at a single location to facilitate a formal audit of the site and facility operations. The data and information in the records and reports must be backed up by either an electronic or a paper trail. The requirement to keep records can extend to the 30-year period following closure of the landfill. If the landfill begins to leak leachate into the groundwater, these records will be important to show the types of waste that were received and disposed of at the facility. They will also be assessed to determine the potential impact that the chemical in the leachate can exert on the environment. What makes groundwater contamination so challenging is that it is mobile and it has the potential to travel large distances down gradient, especially if the sub-soil geology is porous (like limestone) or if the groundwater feeds an aquifer. Unknowingly, the contaminated groundwater can be pumped to the surface by a farmer to irrigate crops, to provide potable water for dairy herds, or even to be used by a family as their primary source of potable water. If the groundwater contaminated by the leachate contains certain types of chemical structures, these chemicals can pass into the milk of the cow and be consumed by a child when milk is purchased at the supermarket in another region of the county. This situation is analogous to the potential hazards that exist today with fracking operations. In these scenarios where fracking goes bad, chemicals are intentionally injected into the underground geology, and, occasionally, some of these make their way into the groundwater as contaminants. When a suitable landfill site is selected, there are many variables that need to be considered. These include the obvious criteria of not building close to an airport (blowing papers and debris can impede pilot visibility and get into the engine), not building on a floodplain (landfills are to be kept dry otherwise leachate generation

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