Engineering geology investigations of a hazardous-waste landfill in West Central Illinois, USA

  • Christopher Stohr
  • Wen-June Su
  • Leon Follmer
  • Paul DuMontelle
  • Robert A. Griffin
Management of Hazardous Chemical Waste Sites


Faster-than-predicted pollutant migration at a state-licensed, hazardous-waste landfill was investigated 3 years after its operation was ceased by court order. At that time, the operator of the landfill discovered organic chemicals in a monitoring well during routine sampling, suggesting laekage from the trenches at a rate of 100 to 1000 times faster than predicted by the laboratory tests made for the initial landfill design. To determine the causes for this rapid pollutant migration, investigators studied site geology and stratigraphy, mine subsidence, hydrogeology, condition of waste containers, trench covers, and soil properties.

Organic chemical probably leaked when meteoric waters drained freely through the trench covers, flushing liquid wastes from the burial trenches into the permeable, fracture ablation till. Interpretation of aerial photographs was used to find depressions and surface impediments in covers through which the drainage occurred. Pipe-type depressions in covers were probably caused by highly erodible (dispersive) soils. Surface impediments, such as roads and erosion-control dikes, caused runoff to pool over the trench covers. In an attempt to eliminate these problems, the following studies are proposed: geologic studies in exploration and design, field hydrogeologic tests, laboratory tests for highly erodible soils, and postclosure monitoring by photointerpretation and remote sensing.


Trench Burial Meteoric Water Landfill Site Liquid Waste 

Etude géologique et géotechnique d'une décharge de produits toxiques dans le Centre-Ouest de l'illinois, États-Unis


Une vitesse de migration de produits toxiques plus rapide que prévue, observée dans une décharge de produits dangreux controlée par l'état a été étudiée 3 ans après que sa fermeture ait été ordonnée par un arrêt du tribunal. A l'époque, l'opérateur de la décharge a découvert lors d'une analyse de routine des produits organiques dans un forage d'échantillonage, indiquant une fuite d'une vitesse de 100 à 1000 fois plus rapide que celle prévue par les essais de laboratoire réalisés lors de la conception de la décharge. Pour déterminer les causes de cette rapide migration, les investigateurs ont étudié la géologie et la stratigraphie du terrain de la décharge, les effondrements dus à des cavités souterraines, l'hydrogéologie, l'état des fûts contenant les déchets, les remplissages de transchées, et les propriétés du sol.

Il est probable que les produits organiques ont migré quand les eaux de pluie se sont écoulées librement à travers le remplissage des tranchées. Les déchets liquides ont été entrainés des tranchées vers les dépôts glaciaires perméables. Des photographies aériennes ont été utilisées pour repérer les obstacles de surface et les dépressions dans les remplissages de tranchées à travers lesquelles le drainage s'effectuait. Les dépressions en forme de tubes en “u” dans les remplissages sont probablement dues à la nature du sol facilement érodable. Les obstacles de surface, comme les routes et les digues de protection contre l'érosion, ont retenu les liquides sur les remplissages de tranchées. Pour éliminer ces problèmes, on propose les études suivantes: études géologiques d'exploration et de conception, essais hydrogéologiques sur le terrain, essais de laboratoire pour les sols facilement érodables, et un suivi de la décharge après sa fermeture grâce à l'interprétation des photographies aériennes et à la télédétection.


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Copyright information

© International Association of Engineering Geology 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Stohr
    • 1
  • Wen-June Su
    • 1
  • Leon Follmer
    • 1
  • Paul DuMontelle
    • 1
  • Robert A. Griffin
    • 1
  1. 1.Illinois State Geological SurgeryChampaign

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