Lucas heights solid waste landfill and downstream leachate transport—A case study in environmental geology

  • Knight M. J. 
  • Leonard J. G. 
  • Whiteley R. J. 


The Lucas Heights landfill is a major solid waste disposal depot for Sydney, Australia. It is a source of pollution for Georges River estuary which supports an oyster industry and recreational fishing. The landfill is located on weathered sandstone and shale at the margin of a coastal plateau. Geophysical techniques and drilling have proved useful in defining subsurface hydrogeology. Groundwater, containing leachate, discharges as springs which feed tributaries of Georges River. Some leachate is being collected by drains and stored for treatment and it is practical for the remainder to be collected. A range of hydraulic properties have been determined and preliminary estimates of leachate quantities discharged from the site have been made using water balance accounting techniques. Variations in fill compositions of different ages have been noted. Significant methane and carbondioxide flows were detected in a three to five year old fill zone. Changes in water quality of streams leaving the site have been assessed. Downstream attenuation is a common feature, but some heavy metal and iron loadings increase due to illegal waste disposal outside the landfill. High rainfalls cause increases in leachate discharge. Landfill management practice will continue to improve as site hydrogeology is defined more closely.


Sandstone Shale Landfill Site Unconfined Aquifer Seismic Refraction 

La Décharge De Matieres Solides De Lucas Heights Et Le Transport Des Effluents Vers L’Aval; Etude D’Un Cas De Géologie De L’Environnement


La décharge de Lucas Heights est un important dépôt de matières solides pour la ville de Sydney (Australie). C’est une cause de pollution pour l’estuaire de la Georges River où existe une industrie ostréicole et où les pêcheurs amateurs vont pratiquer leur sport favori. La décharge est située sur des grès et des schistes argileux altérés, en bordure d’un plateau côtier. L’hydrogéologie des formations superficielles a été étudiée à l’aide de techniques géophysiques et de sondages. L’eau souterraine chargée d’effluents de la décharge forme des sources qui alimentent des affluents de la Georges River. Une partie de l’effluent est collectée par des drains et stockée en vue de son traitement et il est souhaitable que le reste soit aussi collecté. Une série de propriétés hydrauliqués a été déterminée et les premières estimations des quantités d’effluents provenant du site ont été notées. Des quantités significatives de méthane et d’anhydride carbonique ont été détectées dans une zone de la décharge, ancienne de 3 à 5 ans. Des changements de qualité de l’eau provenant du site ont été constatés. En général, on observe une atténuation vers l’aval mais il y a un accroissement des teneurs de quelques métaux lourds à cause de dépôts illégaux hors de la décharge. D’importantes chutes de pluie augmentent le volume des effluents. L’exploitation de la décharge continuera à s’améliorer au fur et à mesure qu’on connaîtra mieux l’hydrogéologie du site.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION (1971): Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater. Journ. Am. Pub. Health Ass. — Am. Wat. Wks. Ass. — Wat. Poll. Con. Fed. Washington D.C. 13th Ed.Google Scholar
  2. ANDERSON J.R. — DORNBUSCH J.N. (1967): Influence of a Sanitary Landfill on Groundwater Quality, Journ. Am. Wat. Wks. Ass. 59, pp. 457–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. APAGAR M.A. — LANGMUIR D. (1971): Groundwater Pollution Potential of a Land above the Water Table. Groundwater 10(9) pp. 76–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. BHATTACHARYA P.K. — PATRA H.P. (1968): Direct Current Geoelectric Sounding. Elsevier, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  5. BROWN W.R. (1969): Geomorphology, general notes, in The Geology of N.S.W., ed. G.H. Packham. Journ. Geol. Soc. Aust. 16(1) pp. 559–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. BRUNNER D.R. — KELER D.J. (1972): Sanitary Landfill Design and Operation. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Rept. SW-65ts., Washington.Google Scholar
  7. BUCHANAN M. (1976): Dumping on the Land in Sydney’s Environmental Amenity 1970–1975, Ed. N.G. Butlin, National University Press, Canberra.Google Scholar
  8. BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY, C. of A. (1975)a): Climatic Averages of New South Wales. Aust. Govern. Publ. Service, Canberra.Google Scholar
  9. BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY, C. of A. (1975b): Meteorological Survey, Holsworthy — Campbelltown District. Aust. Govern. Publ. Service. Canberra.Google Scholar
  10. CARPENTER E.W. (1955): Some Notes Concerning the Wenner Configuration. Geophys. Prosp. 3, pp. 388–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. CARTWRIGHT K. — McCOMAS M.R. (1968): Geophysical Surveys in the Vicinity of Sanitary Landfills in Northeastern Illinois, Groundwater 6(5) pp. 23–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. CHOW V.T. (1964): Handbook of Hydrology. McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York.Google Scholar
  13. CLARK J.W. — VIESSMAN W. — HAMMER M.J. (1971): Water Supply and Pollution Control. Internat. Textbook Co. Toronto.Google Scholar
  14. COLONNA R.A. (1976): Methane gas recovery in Mountain View moves into second phase. Solid Waste Management/Refuse and Removal Journ., 19(5), pp. 90–102.Google Scholar
  15. COOPER H.H. — BREDEHOEFT J.D. — PAPADOPULUS I.S. (1966): Response of a Finite Diameter Well to an Instantaneous Charge of Water. Water Resources Research, 3(3) pp. 263–269.Google Scholar
  16. DAVIS G.H. — GREEN J.H. — OLMSTED F.H. — BROWN D.W. (1959): Groundwater Storage Conditions and Storage Capacity in the San Joaquin Valley, California, U.S. Geol. Surv. Water Supply Paper 1469, 287 pp.Google Scholar
  17. DOE (1975): Programme of research on the behaviour of hazardous wastes in landfill sites. Dept. Environment, U.K. Interim Rept. on Progress, Sept. 1975, WLR Tech. Note Ser.Google Scholar
  18. FINN D.G. — HANLEY K.J. — DEGEARE T.V. (1975): Use of the Water Balance for Predicting Leachate Generation From Solid Waste Disposal Sites. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Report 530/SW-168.Google Scholar
  19. GRAY D.A. — MATHER J.D. — HARRISON I.B. (1974): Review of groundwater pollution from waste disposal sites in England and Wales, with provisional guidelines for future site selection. Q. Journ. Eng. Geol., 7, pp. 181–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. GREENHALGH S.A. — WHITELEY R.J. (1977): Effective Application of the Seismic Refraction Method to Highway Engineering Projects. Aust. Rd. Res. 7(1), pp. 3–20.Google Scholar
  21. GREGORY K.J. — WALLING D.E. (1973): Drainage basin form and process. Edward Arnold, London.Google Scholar
  22. GRIFFIN R.J. (1963): Undergroundwater Resources of New South Wales. Geol. Surv. N.S.W. Rept. No. 16.Google Scholar
  23. HAGERTY D.J. — PAVONI J.L. — HEER J.F. (1973): Solid Waste Management. Van Nostrand Reinhold Book Co., New York.Google Scholar
  24. HAZEL C.P. (1974): Lecture Notes on Groundwater Hydraulics. Aust. Wat. Res. Council. Groundwater School, Adelaide.Google Scholar
  25. HEALY K.A. — LAAK R. (1973): Factors Affecting the Percolation Test. Journ. Wat. Poll. Conc. Fed. 45(7) pp. 1508–1516.Google Scholar
  26. HUGHES G.M. — LANDON R.A. — FARVOLDEN R.N. (1971): Summary of Findings on Solid Waste Disposal Sites in Northeastern Illinois. Illinois Geol. Surv. Env. Geol. Notes No. 45, 25 pp.Google Scholar
  27. HUGHES, G.M. — SCHLEICHER J.A. — CARTWRIGHT K. (1976): Supplement to the Final Report on the Hydrogeology of Solid Waste Disposal Sites in Northeastern Illinois. Illinois Geol. Surv. Env. Geol. Note No. 80, 25 pp.Google Scholar
  28. JOHNSON M. (1977): Chemical Laboratories. Dept. Mines. N.S.W.Google Scholar
  29. KELLY, W.E. (1976): Geoelectric Soundings for Delineating Groundwater, 14 (1), pp. 6–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. KLEFSTAD G. — SENDLEIN L.V. — PALMQUIST R.C. (1975): Limitations of Electrical Resistivity Methods in Landfill Investigations. Groundwater, 13 (5), pp. 418–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. KNIGHT M.J. (1977): Water Quality and Waste Disposal Patterns in the Catchment of the Tuggerah-Munmorah Lake System, N.S.W. Part 2: Final Report. School of Applied Geology U.N.S.W. (Unpubl.).Google Scholar
  32. KUNKLE G.R. — SHADE J.W. (1976): Monitoring Groundwater Quality Near a Sanitary Landfill. Groundwater, 14(1), pp. 11–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. LAWRENCE C.D. (1975): Geology, Hydrodynamics and Hydrochemistry of the Southern Murray Basin. Geol. Surv. Vic. Memoir 30, 359 pp.Google Scholar
  34. LEGRAND H.E. (1964): System for Evaluation of Contamination Potential of Some Waste Disposal Sites. Am. Wat. Wks. Ass. Journ. 56(8), pp. 959–974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. LEGRAND H.E. (1965): Patterns of Contaminated Zones of Water in the Ground. Wat. Res. Res., 1(1) pp. 83–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. LEGRAND H.E. — BROWN H.S. (1977): Evaluation of Groundwater Contamination Potential from Waste Disposal Sources. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Contract No. 68-01-4405 (in press), Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  37. LEONARD J.G. (1977): Hydrogeology and Hydrochemistry of the Lucas Heights Waste Disposal Site and extent of Leachate transport in tributaries of Georges River. M. App. Sc. Project Rept. Uni. N.S.W., (unpubl.).Google Scholar
  38. LOUGHNAN F.C. (1960): The Origin and Mineralogy, and Some Physical Properties of the Commercial Clays of N.S.W. University of N.S.W. Geol. Series No. 2.Google Scholar
  39. LOUGHNAN F.C. — GRIM R.E. — VERNET J. (1962): Weathering of Some Triassic Shales in the Sydney area. Journ. Geol. Soc. Aust., 8(2), pp. 245–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. LOUGHNAN F.C. (1977): School of Applied Geology, U.N.S.W.Google Scholar
  41. LINSLEY R.K. — KOHLER M.A. — PAULHUS J.L. (1975): Hydrology for Engineers. McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York.Google Scholar
  42. McALPINE J.R. (1970): Estimating pasture growth periods and droughts from simple water balance models. Proc. XI Internat. Grassland Congress, pp. 484–487.Google Scholar
  43. MWDA. (1977): Metropolitan Waste Disposal Annual Report, 1977.Google Scholar
  44. PHILIP J.R. (1969): Theory of Infiltration. Adv. Hydrosci. 5, pp. 215–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. PILGRIM D.H. (1972): Physical and Climatic Characteristics of the Western and Hacking catchments of New South Wales. The U.N.S.W. Water Res. Lab. Rept. 125.Google Scholar
  46. PLESS T.J. (1975): Micropermeability and Porosity of Sediments in the Sydney Basin, Near Camden. M. App. Sc. Project Report, U.N.S.W., (unpubl.).Google Scholar
  47. SCHLUMBERGER (1969): Log interpretation. Schlumberger Ltd., New York.Google Scholar
  48. SCULLY B. (1977): Health Officer, Sutherland Shire Council.Google Scholar
  49. SIYALI D. (1977): Public Health Commission of New South Wales, Sydney.Google Scholar
  50. SPCC (1976): State Pollution Control Commission of New South Wales. Annual Rept. Sydney.Google Scholar
  51. SPCC (1977): The quality of Sydney’s natural waterways in relation to its growth. Report issued by the Minister for Planning and Environment.Google Scholar
  52. STANDARD J.C. (1969): Hawkesbury Sandstone; in The Geology of N.S.W., ed. G.H. Packham. Journ. Geol. Soc. Aust. 16(1), pp. 407–417.Google Scholar
  53. STOLLAR R.L. — ROUX P. (1973): Earth Resistivity Survey: A Method for Defining Groundwater Contamination. Groundwater 13(2) pp. 145–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. THOMAS R. (1977): Technical Manager, Metropolitan Waste Disposal Authority.Google Scholar
  55. THORNTHWAITE C.W. (1948): An Approach Towards a Rational Classification of Climate. Geographical Review pp. 55–72.Google Scholar
  56. THORNTHWAITE C.W. — MATHER J.R. (1957): Instruction and Tables for Computing Potential Evapotranspiration and the Water Balance. Drexel Institute of Technology, Laboratory of Climatology Publication in Climatology, 10(3) pp. 185–311.Google Scholar
  57. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, (1955): Yearbook of Agriculture for 1955, U.S. Dept. Agr., Washington.Google Scholar
  58. VAN DEN BROEK E. — KIROV N.Y. (1971): The Characterisation of Municipal Solid Wastes. Proc. 1971 Aust. Waste Disposal Conference, Sydney, pp. 23–29.Google Scholar
  59. VAN DEN BROEK P.H. (1971): Geological Evaluation of the Proposed Belconnen Refuse Area, Canberra City District, A.C.T. Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics, Dept. Nat. Development Record 1971/132. (Unpublished).Google Scholar
  60. WALKER P.H. (1961): A Soil Survey of the County of Cumberland, Sydney Region, New South Wales, N.S.W. Dept. Agr. Soil Surv. Unit Bull. No. 2.Google Scholar
  61. WALLIS G.R. — JOHNSON M. (1969): Hydrogeological Study of the Sydney Basin: Progress Report No. 1. N.S.W. Geol. Surv. Records 11(1) pp. 23–34.Google Scholar
  62. WARD R.C. (1975): Principles of Hydrogeology. McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York.Google Scholar
  63. WARNER D.L. (1969): Preliminary Field Studies Using Earth Resistivity Measurements for Delineating Zone of Contaminated Groundwater. Groundwater, 7(1), pp. 9–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. WELLS G.C. — EDWARDS R.A. (1969): A Survey of Sewage Pollution in Georges River Oysters. Food. Tech. Aust. Dec. pp. 616–619.Google Scholar
  65. WHITE D.G. (1973): Average Rainfall Variations over the Sydney Area. Journ. Met. Soc. N.S.W. 1 pp. 10–12.Google Scholar
  66. WHITING J.W. (1955): Groundwater Supplies in Symp. on the Water Resources of Australia: Their Control and Development. N.S.W. U. of Technology, 39.Google Scholar
  67. ZANONI A.E. (1973): Potential for Groundwater Pollution from the Disposal of Solid Wastes. Chemical Rubber Co., Critical Reviews in Environmental Control, 3(3) pp. 225–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Assocaition of Engineering eology 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Knight M. J. 
    • 1
  • Leonard J. G. 
    • 1
  • Whiteley R. J. 
    • 1
  1. 1.Engineering Geology, School of Applied GeologyUniversity of New South WalesKensigtonAustralia

Personalised recommendations