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Waste management

Landfills and remediation

The Ministry of Environment and Energy published on 8 June 2017 the Public Call under which the units of local self-government have available 80 million kunas

from the Operational Programme “Competitiveness and Cohesion” remediation of non-hazardous waste landfills.

The call will remain open until the funding is used up, and at the latest by the end of 2018,  the text of the call can be found at: http://www.strukturnifondovi.hr/natjecaji/1419

85% of the overall costs will be financed from the EU call (the minimum of 1.875.000 kunas, and the maximum of 30.000.000 kunas per project), the Fund will finance 10% of the total eligible costs of the project, while the beneficiaries have to ensure 5% of the funding.

 A landfill is a built up waste disposal site for the deposit of the waste onto or into land (underground landfill), including:

  • internal waste disposal sites where a producer of waste is carrying out its own waste disposal at the place of production,
  • permanent waste disposal sites or their parts which can be used for temporary storage of waste (for instance for a period exceeding one year),
  • depleted open-pit mines or their parts created by mining exploitation and/or prospecting suitable for waste disposal.

Landfills are classified into the following categories:

  • hazardous waste landfill,
  • non-hazardous waste landfill,
  • inert waste landfill.

Remediation of landfills contributes to continuous abatement of the negative impacts of waste on the environment and natural resources. The goal is to reduce detrimental impacts on the environment during the entire life cycle of the landfill, especially the pollution of surface waters, ground waters, soil and air, including the emission of greenhouse gases, and to reduce the risks for human health which could arise in the process of depositing waste and the life span of the waste landfill, i.e. the goal is to bring waste landfills to an environmentally acceptable state.

Possible methods of landfill remediation (in general)

The existing waste landfills can be remediated by using either the in situ or ex situ method. The key criteria for the technical solution of remediation include environmental impact (50%), technical features of the location (30%) and economic properties of the location (20%).

Depending on the chosen technical and technological solution, it is necessary to envisage the adequate infrastructure: electricity and water supply, construct the 

leachate basin, drainage structures, weighbridge, guard booth, erect a fence around the landfill perimeter, construct the fire access road, and plant a high green belt.

Ex situ method

This method implies moving the entire waste to another compliant landfill.
The advantage of this method is that the overall waste is disposed of in an adequate manner, while the location is restored to its original state.
A disadvantage of this method is a considerable amount of funding required for remediation in the case of a large quantity of waste or great distance from a compliant landfill that can accept this waste.

In situ method                                                      

The first option in using the in situ method is to build a new cell next to the old landfill body on the same location. Then all of the existing, old waste would be moved to the new cell. In addition, after excavation and moving of the old waste, new municipal waste would be deposited on the new cell until the closure of the landfill, which would take place after putting the county or regional waste management centre into operation.

The advantage of this option is the fact that all waste, the old and the newly deposited waste, is placed on the suitably built bottom liner, which completely eliminates the possibility of negative environmental impact of the leachate.

The second option of the in situ method proposes to build a new suitable cell for municipal waste within the boundaries of the landfill. The old waste would not be moved to the cell but would remain on the present location, and it would be remediated by installing the system of gas wells for passive degassing, covering with the top liner, and planted with vegetation in order to minimise further formation of leachate, i.e. the emission of harmful substances into the environment.

A drawback of the second option is that it does not envisage the bottom liner below the old waste, so potentially there is the possibility of negative environmental impacts of leachate.

A considerable advantage of the second option is that it allows the new cell and the accompanying infrastructure to be built within the boundaries of the existing landfill, so the neighbouring land plots need not be acquired.

The body of the landfill comprises:

LINER LAYERS

The bottom (foundation) liner of the landfill body comprises impermeable materials, most often clay, plastic foil, asphalt or bitumen, in order to prevent the leakage of liquids and pollution of soil below the waste. It is followed by the geomembrane, a smooth surface 2 mm thick covered by a layer of protective 

geotextile which prevents punctures in the geomembrane. Then drainage system is installed, i.e. the layer with a pipe into which tiny holes are drilled and which is covered with larger gravel. These pipe drain the leachate, while the gravel is there to prevent tiny particles from entering the pipe. After this layer is built, waste disposal can start.

The landfill cell cap is built as a composite system of several natural and artificial layers (from the bottom to the top):

  • gas drainage system (30 cm) od inert material (gravel 16/32) which is placed on top of the waste
  • The GCL layer (watertight geocomposite) or 80 cm of watertight clay
  • Geo-drainage
  • 80 cm thick re-cultivating cover layer of humus with hydroseeding, preventing the penetration of precipitation into the waste.

LEACHATE DRAINAGE SYSTEM

Leachate is any liquid that comes into contact with the deposited municipal waste. These waters are collected on the bottom liner and through a system of pipes routed to the leachate basin. Leachate is polluted water kept in the closed drainage system without releasing into the environment. Depending on the technical solution, it is possible to recirculate it on the deposited waste or to discharge in the waste water treatment system.
The annual quantity pf precipitation, estimated on the basis of seepage through uncovered waste, is used to calculate the quantity of leachate.

STORM WATER DRAINAGE SYSTEM  

Storm water from established surfaces (green surfaces, capped landfill cells, roof runoff water, roadways) will not come into contact with any type of waste. Storm water is routed through the system of ducts to the storm water basin where it is used as technological water (wheel washing water), or it is discharged into the soil, as appropriate. The waters from the handling asphalted surfaces and the areas for washing the wheels a discharged through the sedimentation tank and treated in the grease and oil separator, and then again used to wash the wheel or watering the vegetation, while any excess is released into the surrounding terrain.

DEGASSING SYSTEM  

In theory, in the process of decomposing 1 tonne of waste releases around 400 m3 of gas. The gas is formed during decomposition of waste, depending on the composition of waste, conditions at the landfill, and the most intense processes take place in the period between years 3 and 20.

Before putting the top cover into place, the passive degassing system has to be installed in the body of the landfill, where this system comprises gas wells and the pipeline directing the gas to the flare to be burnt.

SETTLEMENT

After the waste is no longer landfilled, chemical and physical processes continue in the body of the landfill and the volume of the deposited waste is reduced, which is conducive to settlement and differential settlement of waste, and consequently of the top cap layer.
The magnitude of settlement depends on the composition of deposited waste, the method and technology of depositing, height of waste, humidity percentage upon depositing, etc. Fully inert municipal waste, after the completed decomposition processes, reaches the specific weight of approximately 1300 kg/m3.

After the closure of the landfill and installation of the top cover, reference points will be placed on the surface for monitoring the landfill after its closure, where measurements have to be carried out once a year over the period of 20 years.

RECULTIVATION AND THE FINAL PURPOSE OF THE AREA  

Recultivation in an attempt to integrate as best as possible the body of the landfill into the surrounding area. Recultivation of the top cover is implemented by planting the grass or vegetation that is characteristic for the environment of the landfill. Further purpose of the area is determined in the physical planning documents.