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Landfills

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 1/11/2010

Landfill sites are used for the disposal of waste materials. Landfills may be built and managed by the producer of waste, or alternatively by state organizations. Landfills are selected according to some established factors for the health safety of humans, to prevent the adverse landfill effects.

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    Facts About Landfills

    Landfill sites are basically a dump that is used for the throwing away of trash and its burial. Traditionally, operating landfills are the most widespread technique used in waste disposal. Landfills can contain in-house sites for the waste disposal where the producer of the waste arranges his own waste disposal at the site of production. There are also many sites that are used by the general public. A properly designed municipal waste landfill pollution prevention plan must be implemented strictly to ensure prevention of harmful effects of landfill sites. Some landfills are also utilized for additional waste management functions like short-term storage, and consolidating for subsequent transfer. (These are called "waste transfer plants.) Landfill odor control is extremely important since landfill impacts on humans can be serious. Landfill gas problems need to be analyzed thoroughly while planning a landfill. The planners of landfills must consider all aspects of how landfills work.

    Please note that "landfill" can also refer to soil that is filled with rocks and soil instead of the waste materials. Such landfills can be used for construction of houses. These sites need to be adequately stabilized and compacted otherwise shaking or ground liquefaction may occur.

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    How Landfills Work

    The vehicles carrying the waste materials are weighed, and the load is examined to ensure that the waste materials are in accordanceHow landfills work  with the acceptance criteria based on the landfill design. After the unloading of the waste, it is suitably compacted by dozers and spread in the area. In addition to automobiles, the landfills may also be designed for railroad containers.

    Normally, the flattened waste is daily covered with earth. Other materials used for covering waste are numerous foam products and blankets. Chipped wood and bio-solids are also sometimes used. The space taken by the crushed waste and the covering material is known as a "daily cell." Proper compaction of the waste is significant to prolong landfill life. The waste density is affected by the compressibility of the waste, thickness of the waste layer, and compactor passes on the waste.

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    Suitability Of Landfill Sites

    Landfill sites are normally approved by the local environmental establishment that ensures minimum impact of waste materials on the environment. A sanitary landfill may use a clay liner for the isolation of the garbage from the surroundings. The landfill function is the appropriate trash burial to isolate the waste from the groundwater, keeping the waste dry, and prevent air contact. Under such environments, the waste material will not be decomposed. Landfills are selected keeping in mind the following factors:landfill sites 

    • Location
    • Easy accessibility by road transport
    • Value of land
    • Distance from the community to be served
    • Stability of the landfill
    • Water table of the locality
    • Location of the neighboring streams, rivers, and flood plains
    • Capacity based on waste density, cover available, settlement, and control of water storm
    • Cost involved
    • Composition of the fundamental bedrock and soil
    • Environmental effect of the landfill

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    Impacts Of Landfills

    Several undesirable effects may occur due to landfill in a locality. The groundwater may be contaminated, leaking aquifers, andlandfill impacts  contamination of soil may be harmful for the wildlife and humans if the exposure is excessive. The decayed organic waste may generate methane that is dangerous for the human life, and the flies and rats may cause numerous diseases if the landfills are not operated properly. Other problems of landfills are dust, odor, noise, and pollution. Environmental dust and noise may be produced from the vehicles approaching landfills. These harmful effects must be analyzed during the planning of landfills, and the injurious impacts be mitigated by appropriate remedial measures.