Present regulations assume that long-term isolation of hazardous wastes - including toxic chemical, biological, radioactive, flammable and explosive wastes - may be effected by disposal in landfills that have liners of very low hydraulic conductivity. In reality, total isolation of wastes in humid areas is not possible; some migration of leachate from wastes buried in the gound will always occur. Regulations should provide performance standards applicable on a site-by-site basis rather than rigid criteria for site selection and design. The performance standards should take into account several factors: (1) the categories, segregation, degradation and toxicity of the wastes; (2) the site hydrogeology, which governs the direction and rate of contaminant transport; (3) the attenuation of contaminants by geochemical interactions with geologic materials; and (4) the release rate of unattenuated pollutants to surface or groundwater. An adequate monitoring system is essential. The system should both test the extent to which the operation of the site meets performance standards and provide sufficient warning of pollution problems to allow implementation of remedial measures. In recent years there has been a trend away from numerous, small disposal sites toward fewer and larger sites. The size of a disposal site should be based on the attenuation capacity of the geologic material, which has a finite, though generally not well-defined, limit. For slowly degradable wastes, engineered sites with leachate-collection systems appear to be only a temporary solution since the leachate collected will also require final disposal. ?? 1981.
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Geological considerations in hazardouswaste disposal