Tag Archives: landfill design

Elevated Temperature Conditions in Landfills: Sharing Innovative Designs and Strategies

July 20, 2020

The large majority of landfills in the country show no signs of special conditions indicating too much heat. Under certain conditions, elevated temperatures may occur inside a landfill, and the excess heat changes the character of chemical reactions taking place in the landfill, such as the decomposition process of the organic matter. Read and follow SCS Advice from the Field blogs for landfill best management practices.

 

SCS Advice from the Field

Landfill operators have known about elevated temperature conditions in landfills for nearly a decade. Some operators have already incurred numerous expenses to control adverse environmental and operational issues at these landfills, and some operators have set aside large amounts of money in their books to address future liabilities associated with such landfills. Due to the complexities of controlling elevated temperature conditions and the compliance issues arising from such conditions, it can force operators to temporarily, or permanently close their landfills.

Can design address elevated temperature conditions?

The operators of larger landfills have been monitoring and analyzing data to identify triggering factors, while others continue controlling the environmental impacts. Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) initiated several research projects to identify the triggering factors with the excellent scientific work of highly qualified researchers. These are on-going projects.

In the meanwhile, operators of larger landfills are developing strategies, basing strategic-decisions on the data and conditions collected during operations over long periods. After analyses, they have the means to reduce the impacts by making changes in their operations and landfill designs. The most effective changes include eliminating certain waste types from the waste stream and improving the movement of liquid and gas through the waste column with new designs.

Are design innovations consistently implemented?

The pioneering designs feature preventative measures, intending to avert the formation of elevated temperature conditions in future disposal cells. Implementing these new design features requires careful consideration and functional analyses, as some of the recommendations can be costly, affecting the bottom line. The urgency in controlling compliance issues associated with elevated temperatures and the associated financial impacts of such conditions objectively prescribe that local managers work closely with their designers and field expertise to bring non-compliance issues under control.

Is this an executive risk management strategy?

Until the on-going research more clearly identifies the triggering factors and the means to prevent the development of elevated temperature conditions, it seems logical to invest in implementing preventative measures that are currently available. When more research results are accessible, then the local managers will be able to make decisions that are even more informed. Those wanting to address the likelihood of future liabilities proactively will need executive-level funding and superior technical support, all of which are possible.

Is there much sharing of newer designs and strategies within the solid waste industry?

Yes, there is a fair amount of collaboration among the technical community and within solid waste associations. Most operators share their preventative designs within the engineering community and help contribute to funded research. Their actions and results will help to strengthen an industry application until such time that research results and the means to prevent the development of elevated temperature conditions are well understood. We all know that progress in technology and science depends on sharing new knowledge.

Let’s continue with the combination of serious research, innovative designs, proactive operational changes, and sharing knowledge among our industry professionals that will lead to more precise solutions in the near future. Here are a few resources available now:

 


 

About the Author:  Ali Khatami, Ph.D., PE, LEP, CGC, is a Project Director and a Vice President of SCS Engineers. He is also our National Expert for Elevated Temperature Landfills, plus Landfill Design and Construction Quality Assurance. He has nearly 40 years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering.

Learn more at Elevated Temperature Landfills 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
Tag Archives: landfill design

Brownsville City Council Gives Go-Ahead for SCS Engineers

July 15, 2020

SCS drone footage
Courtesy of SCS Engineers drone footage.

On July 7, 2020, the City of Brownsville Commission approved a recommendation by the Engineering and Public Works Department to continue an existing multi-year partnership with SCS Engineers. SCS is an environmental consulting and contracting firm that will serve the City for an additional five years. The environmental contracts support the Landfill Gas Collection and Control System (GCCS) expansion and provide landfill engineering, compliance, monitoring and operations assistance.

Project Director, J. Roy Murray, an SCS vice president, and the team’s principal consulting engineer will continue to serve the City’s citizens and staff. Mr. Murray has decades of experience in civil and environmental permitting, design, and construction at municipal solid waste landfills (MSW), including 20 years serving the Brownsville Landfill. Mr. Murray states:

The City staff and Commission continues to entrust SCS Engineers to help the landfill staff with the safe, efficient, and compliant operation of the landfill. We are honored by their trust. The City of Brownsville MSW Landfill Operations team serves the City well. The facility is the primary solid waste disposal site for surrounding communities, carefully engineered and maintained regularly even during severe weather and now a pandemic. The forethought of the Landfill Division, their leadership, and innovative practices provide the citizens with stellar services while protecting the environment.

The initial installation of the City Landfill’s Gas Collection and Control System (GCCS) completed in 2011, was part of an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant the City received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. SCS Engineers assisted with the application process, and as a result of the collaboration, the City received a $1.7 million grant to install a landfill gas collection system at the landfill. With GCCS operation, the City has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions. The landfill infrastructure and emission reductions were voluntary at the time, but the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Air Quality rules and regulations, and EPA’s New Source Performance Standards, now require them.

The Gas Collection and Control System consists of 16 landfill gas extraction wells and currently provides coverage of 32 acres of the City Landfill’s disposal footprint. The City plans to expand the GCCS during 2021, to support landfill’s growth and stricter air permit regulations. The expansion includes 38 additional wells covering 120 acres of the landfill footprint. The new wells will integrate with the collection system and integrate with liquids management, leachate control, and stormwater systems, among others.

About SCS Engineers

SCS Engineers’ environmental solutions and technology are a direct result of our experience and dedication to solid waste management and other industries responsible for safeguarding the environment. For more information about SCS, please follow us on your preferred social media channel, or watch our 50th Anniversary video.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 10:55 am
Tag Archives: landfill design

Temporary Caps – Becoming a No-Brainer for Landfills

July 15, 2020

Another SCS Advice from the Field blog.

Landfill slopes that have reached final grades, or will receive waste in the distant future have maintenance challenges. Environmental elements continually affect surface conditions, and remedial work is required routinely to prevent negative outcomes of exposed slopes. Consider using a geomembrane temporary cap to address much of the maintenance. Here’s a list showing how the cap can help:

Landfill Maintenance Challenge       

  • Washouts due to stormwater runoff
  • Need to establish a vegetative cover
  • Maintain grass regularly
  • Leachate seeps appearing without warning
  • Landfill odors after storms
  • Surface disturbance from gas lines or associated construction
  • Leachate generation from rainwater percolation

With Geomembrane Temporary Cap

  • No washouts – sheet flow of stormwater runoff over the geomembrane
  • No need for a vegetative cover
  • No mowing, or cutting paths to read a well
  • Leachate seeps diminish with a temporary impermeable layer
  • Additional barrier to control landfill odors
  • Easily place gas lines above the geomembrane
  • Less percolation equates to less leachate generation from the capped area

 

The significant maintenance savings by using a temporary cap make the payoff period for the investment attractive. Based on my experience and site variations, the return on investment is usually three to six years. The period is considerably shorter if your landfill does not have a leachate disposal or treatment system, or deep injection well. The difference is the high cost to have the leachate hauled away.

Temporary caps potentially reduce routine maintenance work, leaving operation staff available for other tasks. The cap provides peace of mind that slopes remain in compliance; regulators don’t need to report non-compliance conditions of exposed slopes during inspection events.

After completing 25 temporary cap projects in the U.S. Southeast alone, we highly recommend using a thick geomembrane. It’s tempting to try to save money using a thinner geomembrane, such as 12 mils or 20 mils, but these can damage more easily and will negatively affect your return. The majority of SCS clients chose to use the recommended 40 mils thick geomembrane, which will survive severe weather conditions.

Ballasting the geomembrane and using the right materials for ballasting is significantly important. We recommend using ultraviolet (UV) resistant rope and sandbags, a tried and true system. UV resistant straps are a decent replacement for ropes. Anchoring mechanisms are also important. We typically recommend using 4×4 treated wood posts at 10-ft spacing, installed in anchor trenches, and tied to ballasting ropes. Depending on the site and operator’s preference, the supporting architecture may be to lay the post horizontally, while tied to the ballasting ropes, at the bottom of the anchor trench buried in the anchor trench’s backfill material.

Over the years, landfill operators have experienced the savings and value that temporary caps bring to landfill operating budgets, and we’re placing more temporary caps every year. If considering this option, SCS can assist you by evaluating the slopes at your site for the caps. We’ll also prepare estimates for the purchase of material and installation costs and estimated time of recovery for your project.


 

About the Author:  Ali Khatami, Ph.D., PE, LEP, CGC, is a Project Director and a Vice President of SCS Engineers. He is also our National Expert for Elevated Temperature Landfills, plus Landfill Design and Construction Quality Assurance. He has nearly 40 years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering.

Learn more at Landfill Engineering

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
Tag Archives: landfill design

Unwelcomed Nuisance – Leachate Seeps Below the Final Cover Geomembrane

June 29, 2020

Landfills located in areas with high precipitation usually experience leachate seeps on slopes. The location of leachate seeps varies, and the reason behind the seeps appearing on the slopes varies as well.

As long as the slope does not have its final cover, you can attempt to control leachate seeps no matter where the seep location. There are many remedies known to landfill operators for controlling seeps before the final cover, but leachate seeps below the final cover are not controllable. The reason is the seeps are out of reach, and you have no means to control or mitigate the situation. The only potential solution is a seep management system built under the final cover geomembrane at the time of final cover construction.

For landfills with slopes extending up to the top of the landfill without terraces, construct a leachate toe drain system (LTDS) at the toe of the slope adjacent to the landfill perimeter berm. The design will collect and convey liquids emanating from seeps further up on the slope (below the final cover geomembrane) to the leachate collection system. See Figure 1.

Figure 1: A typical design for the LTDS at the toe of the slope (SCS Engineers).

For landfills with terraces on the slope, construct LTDSs at every terrace. Best practices call for the location at the toe of the slope, above the terrace, the lowest point of that slope. Consequently, the terrace width prevents seep liquids from flowing further down the slope, and the LTDS at the terrace prevents the accumulation of leachate behind the final cover geomembrane at the interior line of the terrace. See Figure 2.

Figure 2: A typical design for the LTDS at a terrace (SCS Engineers).

At the lowest point of the terrace, locate a downspout to convey liquids to the leachate collection system at the bottom of the landfill. You will also need a LTDS at the toe of the slope adjacent to the landfill perimeter berm, as discussed above. You may connect the terrace downspouts to the LTDS located adjacent to the perimeter berm to drain the liquids collected at terraces.

To prevent erosion of fines by small streams of liquids flowing down the slope below the final cover geomembrane use this best practice. This design will prevent depressions forming in the top surface of the final cover. First, place a LTDS geocomposite panel from the source of any leachate seep that you identify on the slope right before the construction of the final cover. Connect the panel to the LTDS pipe-gravel burrito at the terrace or perimeter berm. This solution provides a preferential path for liquids coming out of the seep without causing erosion. See Figures 1 and 2.

Place the LTDS geocomposite below the LTDS burrito when simultaneously constructing the burrito and the LTDS geocomposite. When constructing the LTDS burrito ahead of time, place the LTDS geocomposite above the burrito later. In either case, the contact area between the LTDS burrito and the LTDS geocomposite must be free of soil, which could impede the free flow of liquids to the LTDS burrito.

SCS has a 20-year record of accomplishment solving leachate seeps below the final cover geomembrane. Feel free to contact our landfill designers for advice.


 

About the Author:  Ali Khatami, Ph.D., PE, LEP, CGC, is a Project Director and a Vice President of SCS Engineers. He is also our National Expert for Landfill Design and Construction Quality Assurance. He has nearly 40 years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering.

Learn more at Landfill Engineering

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:01 am
Tag Archives: landfill design

Landfill Airspace – Are You Maximizing Your Greatest Asset?

May 20, 2020

SCS’s Advice from the Field Series

Landfills, especially large regional landfills, are huge enterprises with many different operations ongoing daily. A landfill’s tangible assets are equipment, buildings, machinery, construction materials in the ground, or stockpiled to support various operations. Of all these, the most significant asset is the permitted airspace. It’s undoubtedly a non-tangible asset when permitted, but gradually this asset gets consumed as it turns into revenue.

Creating landfill airspace during a design/permitting process involves the operator hiring a landfill engineer to develop the concept of the airspace, prepare an appropriate design with engineering methods, and obtain a permit for it through regulatory agencies. In a sense, a portion of your future revenue is in the hands of your landfill engineer. You depend on this engineer to create the maximum amount of airspace, generating the maximum amount of revenue for your operation over time. Your engineer is supposed to be your trusted partner, and you are investing an enormous amount of capital for the design, permit, and construction based on the work performed by the engineer.

In some instances, the operator leaves most of the technical decision making to the engineer. On other occasions, the operator is in the loop during the engineer’s design, but the operator is not heavily involved in the nuances of the disposal cell’s layout in consideration of the existing terrain. In either case, the engineer is significantly responsible for achieving the maximum amount of airspace. The multi-million dollar question is whether you could have had another 3 million or 5 million cubic yards of additional airspace in your permit. How do you check if your landfill engineer maximized airspace in the design?

Assuming proper training, most landfill engineers can design adequate landfills. Still, very few landfill engineers have the unique talent and experience that can maximize airspace within specific design parameters. You, as the operator want engineers with a proven track record of maximizing airspace in their landfill designs, and do not let relationships or political nuances affect your judgment during selection because tens of millions of dollars of additional revenue are at stake.

A trained landfill engineer may miss details that a highly qualified engineer would not. Incidentals here and there, if recognized and accounted for, can add significant airspace to the design. These details vary from site to site, and it’s up to the engineer to recognize the benefits of geometric and regulatory opportunities to add to the covered airspace. These details could be in the form of:

  • Special geometries for the landfill slopes,
  • The lateral extent of waste limits,
  • The landfill footprint placement within the terrain,
  • The extent of excavation for establishing bottom grades for disposal cells,
  • The relative position of base grades with respect to the groundwater elevations,
  • Combining leachate collection sumps among two or more disposal cells,
  • Steeper slopes to increase airspace while staying within the bounds of regulatory requirements,
  • Positioning peripheral systems in a different way to benefit from additional land to add to the landfill footprint,
  • Considering future expansion down the road and planning appropriately, and
  • Other nuances that an expert considers.

The operator chooses the project manager or the primary engineer for the design of a greenfield landfill or an expansion to an existing landfill, knowing that the work performed by the selected engineer could potentially add to or take away hundreds of millions of dollars from the bottom line of your enterprise. So, pick your engineer based on the engineer’s prior design track record and make sure the engineer is an expert in maximizing landfill airspace.

SCS is an expert, highly experienced landfill designer – relied on by many landfill operators as a trusted partner. Our culture is to serve our clients as if their project is our own, and we do not consider ourselves successful unless our clients are satisfied. These close relationships help us serve the majority of our clients on a long-term basis, with decades of continuous service and value.

SCS will gladly evaluate scenarios for your landfill expansions that you are planning to design and permit, and provide you with a preliminary estimate of airspace gain and revenue that an SCS design could bring, potentially increasing your primary asset by another tens of millions of dollars. Now that’s a value statement!


About the Author:  Ali Khatami, Ph.D., PE, LEP, CGC, is a Project Director and a Vice President of SCS Engineers. He is also our National Expert for Landfill Design and Construction Quality Assurance. He has nearly 40 years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering.

Learn more at Landfill Engineering

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
Tag Archives: landfill design

Emerging Design Concepts to Facilitate Flow of Liquids on Landfills

May 11, 2020

The industry is designing and building more substantive drainage features and larger collection systems from the bottom up, that maintain their integrity and increase performance over time, thus avoiding more costly problems in the future.

Waste360 spoke with three environmental engineers about what landfill operators should know about liquids’ behavior and what emerging design concepts help facilitate flow and circumvent problems such as elevated temperature landfills, seeps, and keep gas flowing.

The engineers cover adopting best practices and emerging design concepts to facilitate flow. They cover topics such as directing flow vertically to facilitate movement to the bottom of the landfill, drainage material, slope to the sump percentages, vertical stone columns, installing these systems at the bottom before cells are constructed, and increasing cell height to prevent the formation of perched zones.

Ali Khatami, one of the engineers interviewed, has developed standards for building tiered vertical gas wells that extend from the bottom all the way up. He frequently blogs about landfill design strategies that his clients are using with success. His blog is called SCS Advice from the Field.  Dr. Khatami developed the concept of leachate toe drain systems to address problems tied to seeps below the final cover geomembrane. These seeps ultimately occur in one of two scenarios, each depending on how the cover is secured.

Read Waste360’s Emerging Design Concepts to Facilitate Flow of Liquids on Landfills

Related Resources

More resources and case studies are available here Landfill Design, Build, OM&M

Landfill Gas Header: Location and Benefits  By continuing to design gas header construction on landfill slopes, all of the components end up on the landfill slope as well. You can imagine what type of complications the landfill operator will face since all of these components are in areas vulnerable to erosion, settlement, future filling, or future construction. Additionally, any maintenance requiring digging and re-piping necessitates placing equipment on the landfill slope and disturbing the landfill slope surface for an extended period.

AIRSPACE, the Landfill Operators’ Golden Egg  Airspace is a golden egg, the equivalent to cash that a waste operating company will have overtime in its account. With each ton or cubic yard of waste received at the landfill, the non-monetary asset of airspace converts positively to the bottom line of the …

Gas Removal from Leachate Collection Pipe and Leachate Sump  Keeping gas pressure low in and around the leachate collection pipe promotes the free flow of leachate through the geocomposite or granular medium drainage layer to the leachate collection pipe and improves leachate removal from the disposal cell. Using gas removal piping at leachate sumps is highly recommended for warm or elevated temperature landfills where efficient leachate removal from the leachate collection system is another means for controlling landfill temperatures.

Leachate Force Main Casing Pipe and Monitoring for Leaks  Landfill operators may add a casing pipe to their leachate force main for additional environmental protection. Consequently, the leachate force main is entirely located inside a casing pipe where the leachate force main is below ground. In the event of a leak from the leachate force main, liquids stay inside the casing pipe preventing leakage …

Pressure Release System Near Bottom of Landfills  Pressure Release System Near Bottom of Landfills – Essential Component for Proper Functioning of the Landfill Drainage Layer. Landfill designers are generally diligent in performing extensive leachate head analysis for the design of the geocomposite drainage layer above the bottom geomembrane barrier layer. They perform HELP model analyses considering numerous scenarios to satisfy all requirements …

Landfill Leachate Removal Pumps – Submersible vs. Self-Priming Pumps  Self-priming pumps can provide excellent performance in the design of a landfill leachate removal system. Landfill owners and operators prefer them to help control construction and maintenance costs too. A typical system for removing leachate from landfill disposal cells is to have a collection point (sump) inside …

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
Tag Archives: landfill design

AIRSPACE, the Landfill Operators’ Golden Egg

November 20, 2019

Welcome to the SCS Advice from the Field blog series.

Airspace is a golden egg, the equivalent to cash that a waste operating company will have overtime in its account. With each ton or cubic yard of waste received at the landfill, the non-monetary asset of airspace converts positively to the bottom line of the waste operating company’s books.

The larger the airspace, the larger the non-monetary asset, and the larger future cash potential in the account.

Therefore, it is extremely important to design landfill footprints optimally in consideration of planned operations at the site, and design landfill features maximizing airspace within the selected landfill footprint.

Optimization takes into consideration the land available for development, including the various facilities and systems necessary for operations. The type of design, depth of landfill, base slopes, leachate collection pipe slope, perimeter berm geometry and size, slopes of landfill side slopes, terraces on slopes, and many other parameters determine the airspace volume available to the landfill operator. The designer’s goal is to provide the most volume to the landfill operator.

How does the operator know that a proposed design is maximizing airspace?

If SCS is the site designer, the maximization of airspace is inherent in proposed designs for permitting. On numerous occasions, when SCS is not the site engineer, our designers have proposed a re-design of landfill features to maximize the airspace within its permitted footprint. Under these circumstances, it is not easy to convince a landfill operator of the benefits of SCS’s proposal. Naturally, one assumes a designer would not propose a lesser design on paper and carry it through the high cost of permitting, so it is common for the landfill operator to express doubts about our proposed changes. Once the operator and SCS review the technical design changes in detail, the demonstrated value becomes apparent. It is not a simple process, but on every occasion, we have successfully increased the airspace for the client, increasing potential revenue for millions of dollars beyond the originally permitted amounts.

Driven by the success of our clients, it is our culture to serve our clients completely as trusted professionals making your challenges our own. SCS is proud to say that at the date of this publication, our designers have created over $400,000,000 of additional financial benefit out of thin air for clients at a dozen landfills with more efficient landfill base grades that maximize airspace and cost less to construct.

As we move toward our 50th year, we hope to continually improve, evolve, and strive to maximize airspace at more landfills, adding value to our clients’ bottom line. Contact our nearest office if you are interested in a landfill evaluation for maximizing airspace and reducing construction costs. As always, our SCS authors are available to answer your questions or comments.

Landfill Design

 



About the Author:  Ali Khatami, Ph.D., PE, LEP, CGC, is a Project Director and a Vice President of SCS Engineers. He is also our National Expert for Landfill Design and Construction Quality Assurance. He has nearly 40 years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
Tag Archives: landfill design

Unique Approaches to Bridging CCR State and Federal Regulatory Gaps

June 24, 2019

When the Federal Coal Combustion Residual (CCR) rule went into effect in 2015, it was a new regulatory layer on top of a widely varying landscape of state regulations affecting CCR management in impoundments and landfills. Some states already had significant regulations on the books for CCR impoundments and/or landfills, while others did not.

Where state regulations existed, they varied widely from state to state. While a few states have moved toward closing the gap between state and Federal CCR requirements, many utilities continue to face confusing and conflicting requirements coming from different regulatory programs as they move ahead with managing their CCR facilities.

In her paper entitled State vs Federal CCR Rule Regulations: Comparisons and Impacts, Nicole Kron shares state-versus-federal regulatory challenges utilities have encountered during landfill design and management, impoundment closure, and groundwater monitoring and reporting since the implementation of the Federal CCR rule. For example, some sites have completely distinct groundwater monitoring programs under state-versus-federal rules, with different well locations, well depths, and monitoring parameters for the same facility. She highlights unique approaches to bridging regulatory gaps and resolving regulatory conflicts between state and Federal CCR requirements. Ms. Kron also provides insights gained on the long-term potential for regulatory resolution of these issues based on discussions with state regulators in multiple states.

SCS Engineers Hydrogeologist Nicole Kron, recently finished her second session of Skype a Scientist, a program in which she Skypes with classrooms and talks to kids about her work as a professional geologist and her journey to become a scientist.

About the Author: Nicole Kron has nearly a decade of experience in the environmental consulting field. Her experiences focus on groundwater quality analysis of sites contaminated with coal gasification byproducts, coal combustion byproducts, chlorinated solvents, petroleum products, metals, and PCBs. Her experience includes managing team task coordination, groundwater modeling, and statistical analysis of CCP/CCR sites. She is experienced in planning and performing soil and groundwater contamination investigations, air monitoring, well design and installation, and soil and groundwater sampling.

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:03 am
Tag Archives: landfill design

SCS Advice from the Field: Landfill Designers Play an Important Role in Landfill Safety

January 21, 2019

Today’s landfill design professionals can help eliminate unsafe configurations and institute features that can proactively warn of and minimize hazards for operator and customer safety. Designers consider subgrade conditions, geotechnical factors and regulatory requirements when specifying how steep a landfill may be constructed.

The practical aspects of landfill operations and maintenance play a significant role in slope configurations since the landfill must provide safe access to monitoring points, environmental control features, and mowing.

Bob Gardner highlights the most important features to consider for landfill cells, including the design and construction phases of the entire landfill’s infrastructure. Bob covers a broad range of topics including:

  • State regulations
  • Site monitoring
  • Signage
  • Site access and traffic considerations
  • Citizen convenience centers

Many states regulate the maximum design slope, and although these vary, it is up to the landfill designer to take practical, safety and regulatory considerations into account when establishing the slope configuration. Bob recommends working closely with the field staff to incorporate a design that is user-friendly, effective and safe.

Read the WasteToday article “Ensuring safety during landfill design,” by clicking here.

About the Author: Bob Gardner, PE, BCEE

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:02 am
Tag Archives: landfill design

Leachate Toe Drain Systems Control Leachate Seeps Underneath the Final Cover

August 6, 2018

It is a general misconception that leachate seeps stop or disappear when slopes receive the final cover. In fact, it is only true if the source of leachate is located directly below the cover, but in most cases, the leachate originates from another location. Continuing seeps eventually reach the bottom of the slope, where two scenarios can happen depending on how the final cover geomembrane is secured at the landfill’s perimeter.

In the first scenario, where the geomembrane is anchored in an anchor trench, liquids will gradually flow underneath the cover geomembrane in the anchor trench and enter the perimeter berm structure. Leachate entering the berm structure softens the berm’s structural fill adversely impacting its shear strength. Additionally, leachate gradually seeps through the berm structure and enters natural formations below the berm and possibly into the groundwater. The operator is alerted when monitoring shows a localized structural failure or a groundwater impact in a nearby groundwater monitoring well.

In the second scenario, where the final cover geomembrane is welded to the bottom lining system geomembrane, leachate seeping out of the slope reaching the toe of the slope accumulates at the toe because it has nowhere to go. Accumulation of leachate behind the final cover geomembrane forces water to gradually move laterally along the landfill perimeter berm behind the final cover geomembrane damaging a larger area behind the final cover. Vertically, more of the area above the toe of the slope becomes engaged by the accumulating leachate. The two obvious consequences are the softening of the soil layer below the final cover geomembrane at the toe of the slope and the water-bedding effect of the area near the toe of the slope.

In the first scenario, the operator has to handle a non-compliance issue, either a failure in the slope or impacts to groundwater. In the second case, the leachate remains contained, but the operator has to address the issue by opening the final cover and removing leachate accumulated behind the final cover geomembrane. The geomembrane opening is closed, and final cover soils are restored after liquids are removed. Both are costly and complicated solutions. Moreover, the problem does not end after completion of the repair because the source of leachate seep is not eliminated.

Landfill operators can require their engineers to design a leachate toe drain system located at the toe of the slope and connected to the leachate collection system at the bottom of the landfill before the final cover geomembrane is installed. The leachate toe drain system is the only way to collect and route leachate to a location at the bottom of the landfill constructed for removal of leachate.

If you are closing a portion of your landfill slope and you find no leachate toe drain system in the construction plans, you can ask for a system to be added to the design plans before the commencement of the construction project.

SCS has significant experience with various types of leachate toe drain system constructed at different locations under various conditions. If you like to know more about the design of leachate toe drain systems or if you are looking for an experienced engineer for the design of your next final cover contact SCS.

Landfill Engineering 

 

Author: Dr. Ali Khatami

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
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