Sep 08, 2014By Nicole Bacher, Associate Engineer
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a landfill as “a system of trash and garbage disposal in which the waste is buried between layers of earth to build up low-lying land.” Sounds simple, right?
Before I started working at the ACUA, I never thought of a landfill as anything more than “that place where my trash goes.” But over the past year, after spending much of my time designing and overseeing the construction of the final cell of the ACUA’s landfill, I've learned first-hand how much work goes into making the final resting place for our trash.
Landfill Construction & Design
Landfills are no longer just open pits in the ground. Modern landfill design is driven by strict EPA and NJDEP standards and regulation.
Everything is done with the environment and public health as the primary concern.
Just as you wouldn’t leave your garbage sitting in your kitchen because it would start to decompose and smell, trash cannot just be buried in an open pit in the ground as it would contaminate groundwater and pollute the air.
To prevent these issues, ACUA utilizes a complex double-liner system that is installed between layers of the ground. From the bottom, there is a geosynthetic clay liner (GCL), a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) liner, and a composite drainage net followed by a second layer of GCL and HDPE. These durable liners prevent any decomposing waste from infiltrating into the ground and ground water.
Final stages of liner being installed into the final ACUA landfill cell
There is also a leachate collection system, which consists of a series of trenches and piping, that collects liquid from within the landfill and pumps it out for proper and safe disposal.
Once trash is landfilled, ACUA captures methane gas produced by decomposing waste from within the cell and converts it into energy through our landfill gas to energy project.
The Final Cell
Over the course of 7 months, I have watched 14 acres transform from nothing into a complex, bustling construction site. The video below shows the progress of the new cell from March until now.
Construction is expected to be complete by the end of September and the cell will begin accepting trash by the end of the year. The cell is estimated to reach maximum capacity in five to six years based on current conditions.
For additional information on the new cell, check out the recent article by the Press of Atlantic City.