A Water Balance Study of Four Landfill Cover Designs at Material Disposal Area B in Los Alamos, New Mexico

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The goal of disposing of low-level radioactive and hazardous waste in shallow landfills is to reduce risk to human health and the environment by isolating contaminants until they no longer pose an unacceptable hazard. In order to achieve this, the Department of Energy Environmental Restoration Program is comparing the performance of several different surface covers at Material Disposal Area (MDA) B in Los Alamos. Two conventional landfill were compared with an improved cover designed to minimize plant and animal intrusion and to minimize water infiltration into the underlying wastes. The conventional covers varied in depth and both conventional and improved ... continued below

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Breshears, David D.; Barnes, Fairley J.; Nyhan, John W. & Salazar, Johnny A. September 1, 1998.

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The goal of disposing of low-level radioactive and hazardous waste in shallow landfills is to reduce risk to human health and the environment by isolating contaminants until they no longer pose an unacceptable hazard. In order to achieve this, the Department of Energy Environmental Restoration Program is comparing the performance of several different surface covers at Material Disposal Area (MDA) B in Los Alamos. Two conventional landfill were compared with an improved cover designed to minimize plant and animal intrusion and to minimize water infiltration into the underlying wastes. The conventional covers varied in depth and both conventional and improved designs had different combinations of vegetation (grass verses shrub) and gravel mulch (no mulch verses mulch). These treatments were applied to each of 12 plots and water balance parameters were measured from March1987 through June 1995. Adding a gravel mulch significantly influenced the plant covered field plots receiving no gravel mulch averaged 21.2% shrub cover, while plots with gravel had a 20% larger percent cover of shrubs. However, the influence of gravel mulch on the grass cover was even larger than the influence on shrub cover, average grass cover on the plots with no gravel was 16.3%, compared with a 42% increase in grass cover due to gravel mulch. These cover relationships are important to reduce runoff on the landfill cover, as shown by a regression model that predicts that as ground cover is increased from 30 to 90%,annual runoff is reduced from 8.8 to 0.98 cm-a nine-fold increase. We also found that decreasing the slope of the landfill cover from 6 to 2% reduced runoff from the landfill cover by 2.7-fold. To minimize the risk of hazardous waste from landfills to humans, runoff and seepage need to be minimized and evapotranspiration maximized on the landfill cover. This has to be accomplished for dry and wet years at MDA B. Seepage consisted of 1.9% and 6.2% of the precipitation in the average and once in ten year events, respectively, whereas corresponding values for runoff were 13% and 16%; these changes were accompanied by corresponding decreases in evapotranspiration, which accounted for 86% and only 78% of the precipitation occurring on the average and once in ten year even~ respectively.

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  • Other: DE00001252
  • Report No.: LA-13457-MS
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-36
  • DOI: 10.2172/1252 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1252
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc627151

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  • September 1, 1998

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 16, 2015, 7:43 a.m.

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  • Nov. 3, 2016, 1:52 p.m.

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Breshears, David D.; Barnes, Fairley J.; Nyhan, John W. & Salazar, Johnny A. A Water Balance Study of Four Landfill Cover Designs at Material Disposal Area B in Los Alamos, New Mexico, report, September 1, 1998; Los Alamos, New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc627151/: accessed December 14, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.