Old and unlined landfill sites pose a risk to groundwater and surface water resources. While landfill leachate plumes in sandy aquifers have been studied, landfills in clay till settings and their impact on receiving water bodies are not well understood. In addition, methods for quantitatively linking soil and groundwater contamination to surface water pollution are required. This paper presents a method which provides an estimate of the contaminant mass discharge, using a combination of a historical investigation and contaminant mass balance approach. The method works at the screening level and could be part of a risk assessment. The study site was Risby Landfill, an old unlined landfill located in a clay till setting on central Zealand, Denmark. The contaminant mass discharge was determined for three common leachate indicators: chloride, dissolved organic carbon and ammonium. For instance, the mass discharge of chloride from the landfill was 9.4ton/year and the mass discharge of chloride to the deep limestone aquifer was 1.4ton/year. This resulted in elevated concentrations of leachate indicators (chloride, dissolved organic carbon and ammonium) in the groundwater. The mass discharge of chloride to the small Risby Stream down gradient of the landfill was approximately 31kg/year. The contaminant mass balance method worked well for chloride and dissolved organic carbon, but the uncertainties were elevated for ammonium due to substantial spatial variability in the source composition and attenuation processes in the underlying clay till.
Waste Management, 2012, Vol 32, Issue 12, p. 2406-2417
Clay till; Landfill leachate; Contaminant mass balance; Mass discharge; Groundwater; Surface water