Landfill Final Storage Quality – Academic for Us But Life and Death for Future Generations

Final Storage Quality of a landfill is a term which, for each and every one of the modern “Sanitary” and “EU Directive Landfills” ever constructed, is at the moment a purely academic concept. None of them will ever reach it in the lifetime of any of us alive today.

The term “final storage quality” was first defined twenty years ago by Baccini and Henseler and other members of a Swiss working group on landfills. In the meantime, the definition has been modified by several authors in various published papers.

In essence, final storage quality is used to imply an “environmentally sound flux/load for short, medium and long term periods”, to use one of the academic versions that I rather like for its brevity.

Which criteria should be used to determine when the “Final Storage Quality” has been reached, is being debated.

What will be the final contaminating parameter of the large number of potential pollutants in a landfill at the end of that that long awaited transition from active aftercare management to passive aftercare?

Which contaminant will be the most critical in the long term, which when it is dissipated, we can all stop concerning ourselves that what was once a landfill no longer has a potential to harm the environment which surrounds it?

Well, having I hope now wetted your curiosity, I am going to disappoint you by saying that I don’t think that academia really yet knows for certain the answer to that. Given the huge number of sanitary (lined and capped landfills) now being filled around the world as I write this, I think we should all think hard and get a little worried for our offspring.

However, two aspects of long term landfill which are of direct economic importance and about which more can be said, are:

1. The longevity of economic landfill gas production for energy production,
2. And, (for those tasked with landfill aftercare duties) it is from the point of economic aftercare, how the escape of the remaining methane to atmosphere without first oxidising it, can be achieved.

Drycake Twister food waste depackaging plastics separator

It is important to achieve “final storage quality” while consistently burning/flaring the methane in landfill gas, or in another way oxidising the methane to prevent serious climate change implications.

We can be sure that in the long-term, gas produced by landfills will be characterized by low methane content.

The methane content and rate of gas production will be so low that there will be scarcely any possibility for its use in economically-sound energy recovery procedures and yet it will still amount to a significant discharge due to the very long period of its slow discharge.

There is no escaping that the gas produced in the long tail of the “elk” requires treatment due to its global warming potential.

New low-cost technologies must be found, either to extend the phase of profitable landfill gas utilization, or methods developed to, if possible, reduce the landfill gas aftercare phase and mitigate long-term emissions.

At our sister landfill gas web site we have started to look at possible aftercare strategies with respect to dwindling landfill gas, and we have written about:

• The proportion of total Active Landfill Gas Recovery that can be economically utilised by active landfill gas extraction
• The developing concept of bio-oxidation of landfill gas instead of flaring, either in specially designed vessels or within modified landfill caps during landfill aftercare.

Click on the linked text in the above lines to read more.

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