Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Filling up Landfills

Days ago, I introduced you to Landfills – what they are and how they work. Landfills are essentially big holes in the ground that are filled with our daily trash. But think about it. Americans generate millions of tons of trash every year. Wouldn’t we just run out of space? Yes, that is a risk. That’s why reduce-reuse-recycling and composting are encouraged, especially in big cities. If we are thoughtless about our trash, where it goes – then we aren’t thinking about the big picture. How much land are we using up for garbage dumps, which mean we can’t use it for housing, recreation, business or farming.

Landfills only last so long. An aging landfill is one that is reaching its Full Capacity. Once the landfill is full, it is closed. Today many cities are filling up their landfills faster than they expected. This is a big problem. Where do you find the space and place to put a new landfill? Would you want to live near a garbage dump, filled daily with fresh decomposing trash? No, I doubt if anyone would. That’s why they are often set on the outskirts of towns, away from people. But we’ve got to get rid of this trash. It is a big complicated problem.

This means the city stops delivering trash and covers up the landfill often with a layer of concrete or asphalt (to cap off the landfill) and then with layers of dirt. But the city is still responsible for monitoring the landfill for leachate, methane gas and other types of pollution. This means that even when it is closed, the landfill fill can’t be use to build anything on it for many years to come. It just sits there until we are sure (as we can be) that is safe for people and animals.

Here are photos of a closed landfill. It looks like a simple span of ground. It is, but there are no residences nearby and the most that can be done with this land is natural habitat restoration -- planting grasses, plants, and flowers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is all great info. I keep thinking about landfills.

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