I read your informative blog regarding recommendations for jet cleaning leachate collection pipes. I have a question.
QUESTION: Say a landfill only has access to one end of a leachate pipe. This would be a situation where a new cell was built, where the uphill side of the cell butts up against an existing, pre-subtitle D cell with no leachate collection pipe. In other words, the uphill side of the new leachate pipe simply terminates rather than tie into an existing pipe.
To add to the issue, no vertical cleanout/riser pipe was installed on the uphill end (as this may impede waste operations in the area). There are of course riser and cleanout pipes and a sump on the downhill side for normal leachate collection. I would imagine that pumping water from the accessible side would push out any solids through the perforations into the leachate aggregate bedding, and may cause clogging there.
Is it possible, or reasonable, to flush this new leachate line?
ANSWER: There is always a possibility that a portion of dislodged material from the interior walls of the pipe will pass through pipe perforations and enter the gravel bedding around the pipe. However, due to the pipe slope, the great majority of the separated material flows down the pipe to the lowest point where it can be removed using a vac-truck.
Keep in mind also that, it’s true that leachate can partially flow through the bedding gravel toward the sump, but the role of the gravel is primarily protecting the pipe against compressive loads of waste above. Partial clogging of gravel around the pipe should not be considered as a malfunction of the system. Partial clogging of gravel normally may occur near the bottom portion of the gravel pack, which still allows leachate flow through gravel to pipe perforations above any clogged zone below.
In several instances, when a portion of a leachate collection pipe was opened up after being in service for a while, it did not support the idea of a clogged zone in the gravel pack. What was observed, included discolored gravel due to fine particles settling (from filtered leachate through geotextile) on gravel particles and a bit of the same particles near the bottom of the gravel pack.
I’ve never observed severe clogging of the gravel pack.
About the Author: Ali Khatami, PhD, 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 over 40 years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering.