Wednesday, June 25, 2014

5 Deadly Sources of Water Pollution - Don't Read This It May Scare You...

What the government doesn't want you to know about Water Pollution!

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Landfills are not specifically shown in this infographic, but are a potentially significant contributor to most of the pollutants shown. They can be chemicals that seep [sip] into the soil (especially if the landfill is not lined) and if leachate gets into the rivers and streams around a landfill they may contribute to all the other categories depending on what has been tipped into the landfill.

So, leachate from unlined and uncapped landfills is a potentially large contributor to the pollution shown in the infographic. But, thankfully, most landfills in the industrialized world nowadays are capped over the top to stop as much rainfall entering them as possible and lined so that the leachate which is formed can always be pumped out and treated so that it does not cause pollution of the sort shown above.

If a large landfill is near you and it is not lined and capped and the leachate is not pumped out and treated responsibly before discharge, you should be worried when you read this...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Leachate Treatment in India

landfill leachate treatment - Traitement du lixiviat de l'enfouillissement

Image by Sustainable sanitation via Flickr

The continuing poor management of landfills in India is a disgrace, so it is no surprise that although we have seen evidence that there is growing interest in the scientific application of good leachate treatment practice in India, it would seldom be possible to apply it, given the unscientific way in which so called "landfills" (dumps?) are currently engineered and managed.

The following is an extract from an article on 24 April of this year (this month) on which I rest my case, since it is based upon the wealthy capital city of the nation:
Delhi government calls its three garbage dumps at Ghazipur, Okhla and Bhalswa landfills. In reality, they are far from what a landfill should be. These are monstrous trash mountains, including hazardous waste, leaching out toxic liquids and emanating noxious fumes. Thousands of scavenging birds swarm over them as they grow larger every day.

The situation could have been different had the corporations given more thought to managing them. Ask any waste picker who scavenges on these dump yards about why this waste could have been a treasure...
...there are hundreds of waste pickers who pick up whatever they can without using masks, gloves or any other protection. Some even tie a magnet to a long stick to pull up metal objects.
 Credits: Capital dumps a fortune at its landfills - Times of India
In my opinion the provision of proper waste disposal facilities should be on the very top of the agenda as any nation industrializes and becomes more wealthy. If India cannot devote just a small amount of it additional wealth which has been accruing at a historically uniquely rapid rate for more than the last ten years, then it is a failing state.

To deny pickers the ability to make a living can be an evil, but so many other nations (including many of lesser wealth) have found a way to recycle waste in a way that provides jobs for the local community without recourse to the life threatening and certainly extremely unhealthy practice of "picking".

At the same time, it has been possible to provide reliable leachate treatment and disposal once the landfills are properly managed and built in accordance with good sanitary landfill practices as have been acheived in the majority of nations around the world.

Providing successful leachate treatment plant designs in India, for the old existing dumps is an impossible task. That is because the prediction of leachate quality is rendered from scientific capability to a matter of guesswork by a lack of data and controls, and this is made even worse by India's monsoon climate which means that any leachate treatment plant needs to be able to run at almost no flow in the dry periods and very quickly at the start of each monsoon be able to treat it's maximum design flows.

As the most effective, and lowest cost forms of leachate treatment rely on biological processes and these cannot be quickly switched on therein lies another problem for leachate treatment in India.

Then finally, any leachate treatment plant designer for Indian landfills will discover that the water quality that the Indian government's own rules require the leachate to be treated to, are as strict, or require higher water quality after treatment, than even many authorities require in the wealthiest industrialized nations.

Unfortunately, waste management and especially landfill methods don't seem to get any better in India, despite increased wealth. They won't be able to do so, until the central Indian government revises the rules and makes them realistic, less strict but much better value for money, and appropriate to what the municipalities can afford to spend.

The 80/20 rule should be adopted, at least to start with for all future leachate treatment projects because by reducing the specifications for final water quality and using innovative solutions Indian landfill operators should be looking to spend 20% of the cost they are being quoted currently for leachate treatment plants for 80% of the treatment quality, and that treated quality would be good enough for the local rivers for the health of the rivers to which the leachate plants discharge, and for those using the water from them.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Report on Leachate Management Solutions Offered in Recent Articles

Let's start this article about leachate management by going back to basics and defining what we mean by the term leachate, and the way I suggest that we do that is to refer to the recent post from ET Environmental which gives a clear definition for any one reading this page who is unsure:
When liquid passes through trash material, such as in a landfill, “leachate” is generated. Rainwater is the largest contributing factor of leachate, but natural decomposition and discarded chemicals also contribute Credits: Leachate: What is it? - ET Environmental

Leachate management is the planned operation of landfill sites in such a way as to avoid the production of leachate as far as practicable, and to drain, collect, treat as necessary, and dispose responsibly of the leachate which is not prevented.

So, now that leachate has been defined we look further around the web and find that there is a discussion of managing landfill leachate seepages (often called "breakouts" in the waste industry), below the final capping membrane at, as follows:
Leachate seeping out of landfill slopes is a common occurrence. Operators struggle to address leachate seeps and manage liquids reaching landfill boundaries. During dry spells, it takes less effort on the part of operators to control liquids on landfill surfaces, and seeps are therefore more manageable. But during periods with frequent storm events or in high-precipitation regions, landfill operators must work constantly on slopes to stop seeps or devise means to control liquids when they do ...Credits: The Use of Leachate Toe Drain Systems Can Deal with Seeps After ...

The authors must be referring to landfills in very wet climates, as such seeps should not normally occur when landfill cells are covered rapidly after filling to avoid the potential for vermin to breed, and for odor production, as required by sanitary landfill procedures (US), or the EU Landfill Directives and related regulations.

Rather than build temporary toe drain systems at substantial cost it is normally recognized to be better to plan the cellular construction of a landfill for smaller cells and to bring those cells up to completion at the surface of the landfill as quickly as possible. Capping and restoration of areas of the landfill prevents further rainfall ingress and that not only allows a permanent landfill gas extraction system to be installed as soon as possible for maximum landfill gas capture, but minimizes leachate production. That's the best form of leachate management there is, namely - make sure that the landfill produces as little as possible!

While browsing for leachate management solutions, we found our own website back in 2011/12, which contains some articles on the subject, namely:

The starting point in any discussion about UK/ EU leachate management techniques is to begin by stating the overriding rule upon which all landfills are operated, in compliance with the EU Landfill Directive. That is that as far ... Credits: Leachate Management Techniques | The Leachate Expert Website

However, perhaps the best page about leachate management is to be found on the leachate Wikipedia page.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Recent Leachate Problems And How To Cure Leachate Breakouts

There have recently been a number of articles on the web that help with solving many of the recent leachate problems which have been publicised.

The types of problems which landfill operators are experiencing have been exemplified in the following articles already this year:

1. Leachate Produced that must be Treated Before Disposal

The landfill site in Memelhakha in Thimphu has started producing leachate. Leachate ,the liquid produced by waste, is said to be poisonous as it contains toxic chemicals. Leachate can also contaminate the ground water and ... 
Credits: Memelhakha landfill starts producing toxic leachate | BBS

2. Leachate which Escapes a Watercourse Before It Can Be Collected and Treated for Safe Disposal

The following was reported on the Department of Environmental Quality's Riverbend Landfill website,  but don't bother looking online for information about the January leachate leak -- that information is no longer there.

Leachate release — On February 10, 2014, landfill personnel observed leachate escaping from the landfill’s northern boundary. Waste Management reported that this leachate reached a creek approximately 300 feet from the landfill.
This leachate was primarily liquid that had collected in the landfill’s gas extraction wells. To keep the extraction wells working properly, this leachate is routinely pumped from the wells to three 21,000-gallon storage tanks near the north side of the landfill. This leachate is kept separate from the majority of the landfill’s leachate, which is pumped to the onsite leachate pond.
This reason for this separation is that leachate associated with the gas extraction wells is more concentrated than the rest of the landfill leachate, and is therefore sent to a different offsite facility for treatment and disposal.
Tanker trucks that routinely haul this leachate to an offsite treatment plant were unable to get to the site because of heavy snow and icy roads.Flow of leachate from the landfill to the tanks was stopped because the tanks were full.
This is believed to be the reason leachate began seeping from the landfill. To prevent this problem in the future, Waste Management has connected these tanks to the pipeline leading to the onsite leachate storage pond.
 Credits: January Leachate Leak? - Stop The Dump Coalition - Blogger

3. Leachate Which Escapes Into the Ground and Creates a "Plume" of Pollution Below the Ground

The investigation was carried out to ascertain leachate plume generation and migration and its impact on the surrounding soil and the groundwater. 2D electrical resistivity imaging using Wenner array was used to delineate ... 

Credits: 2D Electrical Imaging Surveys for Leachate Plume Migration at an ...

Solutions And How To Cure Leachate Breakouts

The breakout of leachate both to the ground around and below a landfill can be prevented by good landfill lining design, and high quality construction of the liner with a high degree of construction quality control, preferably by an accredited independent organisation.

Find out more at

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Building Work Starts on the World's Most Expensive Leachate Treatment Plant

Construction work has begun on the world's most expensive leachate treatment plant which at $27 million will be the most expensive ever built in the world to date. 

A number of plants are estimated to have been built at up to $15 million previously, but this one is significantly the most expensive in terms of the (assumed) capital cost, and it will only pre-treat the leachate which will then be discharged to the public sewer.
There will be an additional charge for that, levied by the Wastewater Treatment Works operator on top of the running costs for the leachate pre-treatment plant - but that cost pales into insignificance when compared with this level of investment.
We have found the following information on the web about the project:
JOHNSTON — The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) recently broke ground on a $27 million leachate pre-treatment plant. The new facility, which will be built on RIRRC property, will utilize green principles to create an energy-efficient system capable of properly treating wastewater before it is released into municipal sewer systems.
“This new facility will help to ensure that Resource Recovery is completely compliant with all modern wastewater treatment standards, and will employ approximately 160 Rhode Island workers in the construction sector through early 2015,” said Mike OConnell, RIRRC’s executive director.
It is not clear whether the £27 million quoted includes for operational costs for a period after construction, but at this price the plant must certainly be the most expensive contract ever.
A second US leachate pre-treatment plant which has just commenced construction is also in the news, this time it is located at the Monmouth County Reclamation Center in New Jersey.
The investment must be substantial, and in thic case the contract does include operational of the plant after construction, but no figures have been given in the press releases we have seen.
We include further information on this second leachate pre-treatment plant below:
Applied Water Management (AWM), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Natural Systems Utilities (NSU), has broken ground along with Middlesex Water Company on a new leachate pretreatment facility at the Monmouth County Reclamation Center in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, US.
The companies have partnered to design, construct and operate the facility under an initial 15-year contract with Monmouth County.
Monmouth County Reclamation Center superintendent Richard Throckmorton said that a long-term public-private partnership with the local New Jersey companies enables the county to have in place a system to manage wastewater with long-term reliability and flexibility, designed to accommodate future regulations.
The project includes a new wastewater treatment plant, which employs an advanced membrane bioreactor (MBR), pump station and pipeline that connects to the local sewer utility.
The MBR technology provides a high level of treatment that helps protect the environment by removing over 500,000lbs of nitrogen and over 1,000lbs of heavy metals from the waste stream every year.
NSU-AWM executive vice president Richard Cisterna said that using an advanced MBR reduces the amount of untreated leachate hauled off-site, significantly lowering operating costs and positively impacting the environment.
These two plants, due to the cost involved, must surely raise the profile of leachate treatment in the US, both within the public who will in the end be paying for them, and the water treatment industry which will need to create specialized water treatment process systems for the special nature of leachate, if these plants are to operate reliably and efficiently.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

How Would You Recognize Leachate Pollution If You Saw It?

Some types of leachate are immediately recognizable by their smell, but that isn't always true and others and much harder to distinguish from the low levels of pollution from septic tanks, and the presence of animals living on the land or nearby.

Steve Last, (Principal of IPPTS Associates) has published an article about the 3 most important indicator substances for the diagnosis of the presence of leachate contamination in soil or river/ stream water, which provides a handy guide to the first steps which might help identify a leachate pollution problem when leachate escapes from a landfill.

Don't stop here if you have an interest in this subject, visit the following link to the leachate expert website.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Why a Landfill Leachate Pollution Incident is so Dangerous to River and Stream Life

Leachate water pollution is a really serious problem when it takes place. I picture how major it is when nasty sewerage overflows in a city district. The encounter is not a pleasurable one for us human beings when we could quickly use our feet and move far from the contamination resource, but the plants and fauna that reside in waterways and streams have nowhere to go when pollution escapes into their living space underwater.

(Image: jschoen2000 via Flickr)

Now think about that landfill leachate which is (depending on the landfill it came from) between 10 and 100 times more powerful compared to sewerage, and take into consideration just how harmful that could be to all-natural organisms in our waterways and streamflows.

Throughout a leachate water pollution event the organic contamination in leachate which is represented by the concentration of BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) feeds micro-organisms in the water which take air from the water in order to increase. This means that there is little or no oxygen left for greater organisms such as fish to breath, and the initial result of leachate water air pollution is generally that witnesses observe lifeless fish belly-up on the edge of the stream or drifting in the direction of the flow.

Nevertheless, when this occurs you can wager that a whole host of undetected creatures that would generally support the life of the fish are likewise suffering and dying. The result is that the whole ecological balance of the watercourse is hindered and could take lots of months, or years, to recover to its initial clean and living and population booming normal condition.

However, aside from the effect of minimized oxygen levels which we have explained, leachate includes numerous other contaminants. The hardest to get rid of and most damaging to flows and river it might enter into is ammoniacal-nitrogen. (People have frequently called this ammonia, yet ammonia in water is a mix of liquefied ammonium and gaseous ammonia - so we will certainly call it ammoniacal-nitrogen to make it clear that we called the complete ammonia (gas) and ammonium (dissolved)).

Ammoniacal-nitrogen is typically existing in sewerage at in between 10 mg/l and FIFTY mg/l (10 ppm to 50 ppm), but in a controlled garbage dump leachate from a regular sanitary waste landfill it will certainly be found to be between 500 mg/l and 3,000 mg/l.

Now consider just what level of ammoniacal-nitrogen greater organisms could allow in typical pH neutral river and stream water, and it is about in the 5 mg/l to 50 mg/l range that they start to end up being stressed and would be likely to perish. From this it is logical to conclude that also an ordinary strength landfill leachate would have to be watered down at least 10 to 100 times prior to it comes to be benign from the perspective of ammoniacal-nitrogen.

So, leachate water contamination is a very seriously unsafe pollution to our waterways and flows, and it is beneficial for society to use up a great deal of care and money to avoid leachate water pollution happening.