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Assessment of the Performance of Engineered Waste Containment Barriers ASSESSMENT OF THE PERFORMANCE OF ENGINEERED WASTE CONTAINMENT BARRIERS Committee to Assess the Performance of Engineered Barriers Board on Earth Sciences and Resources Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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Assessment of the Performance of Engineered Waste Containment Barriers THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by the Department of Energy, Office of Science (BER) Grant No. DE-FG02-06ER64259; Environmental Protection Agency, Grant No. CR-83211601; National Science Foundation, Grant No. CMS-0243338; and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Award No. NRC-04-02-081. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations contained in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. Neither the U.S. Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the U.S. Government or any agency thereof. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-10809-6 (Book) International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-10809-8 (Book) International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-10810-2 (PDF) International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-10810-1 (PDF) Library of Congress Control Number 2007929585 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet http://www.nap.edu. Cover: Scene from the Newcastle golf course, which was built near Seattle, Washington, over a landfill containing demolition and inert construction waste. Photograph courtesy of OK: Golf/Golf Club at Newcastle. Copyright 2007 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
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Assessment of the Performance of Engineered Waste Containment Barriers THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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Assessment of the Performance of Engineered Waste Containment Barriers COMMITTEE TO ASSESS THE PERFORMANCE OF ENGINEERED BARRIERS JAMES K. MITCHELL, Chair, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg LISA ALVAREZ-COHEN, University of California, Berkeley ESTELLA A. ATEKWANA, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater SUSAN E. BURNS, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta ROBERT B. GILBERT, University of Texas, Austin EDWARD KAVAZANJIAN, JR., Arizona State University, Tempe W. HUGH O’RIORDAN, Givens Pursley LLP, Boise, Idaho R. KERRY ROWE, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario CHARLES D. SHACKELFORD, Colorado State University, Fort Collins HARI D. SHARMA, Geosyntec Consultants, Oakland, California NAZLI YESILLER, Independent Consultant, San Luis Obispo, California National Research Council Staff ANNE M. LINN, Study Director CAETLIN M. OFIESH, Research Associate JARED P. ENO, Senior Program Assistant
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Assessment of the Performance of Engineered Waste Containment Barriers COMMITTEE ON GEOLOGICAL AND GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEERING GREGORY B. BAECHER, Chair, University of Maryland, College Park THOMAS W. DOE, Golder Associates, Redmond, Washington SANDRA HOUSTON, Arizona State University, Tempe WESLEY C. PATRICK, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas J. CARLOS SANTAMARINA, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta A. KEITH TURNER, Colorado School of Mines, Golden National Research Council Staff SAMMANTHA L. MAGSINO, Program Officer NICHOLAS D. ROGERS, Senior Program Assistant
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Assessment of the Performance of Engineered Waste Containment Barriers BOARD ON EARTH SCIENCES AND RESOURCES GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Chair, University of Virginia, Charlottesville GREGORY B. BAECHER, University of Maryland, College Park STEVEN R. BOHLEN, Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Washington, D.C. KEITH C. CLARKE, University of California, Santa Barbara DAVID COWEN, University of South Carolina, Columbia WILLIAM E. DIETRICH, University of California, Berkeley ROGER M. DOWNS, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park JEFF DOZIER, University of California, Santa Barbara KATHERINE H. FREEMAN, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park RHEA L. GRAHAM, Pueblo of Sandia, Bernalillo, New Mexico ROBYN HANNIGAN, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro RUSSELL J. HEMLEY, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C. MURRAY W. HITZMAN, Colorado School of Mines, Golden V. RAMA MURTHY, University of Minnesota (retired), Minneapolis CLAYTON R. NICHOLS, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (retired), Standpoint RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada BARBARA A. ROMANOWICZ, University of California, Berkeley JOAQUIN RUIZ, University of Arizona, Tucson MARK SCHAEFER, Global Environment and Technology Foundation, Arlington, Virginia WILLIAM W. SHILTS, Illinois State Geological Survey, Champaign RUSSELL STANDS-OVER-BULL, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Billings, Montana TERRY C. WALLACE, JR., Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico THOMAS J. WILBANKS, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee National Research Council Staff ANTHONY R. DE SOUZA, Director PAUL M. CUTLER, Senior Program Officer ELIZABETH A. EIDE, Senior Program Officer DAVID A. FEARY, Senior Program Officer ANNE M. LINN, Senior Program Officer ANN G. FRAZIER, Program Officer SAMMANTHA L. MAGSINO, Program Officer RONALD F. ABLER, Senior Scholar VERNA J. BOWEN, Administrative and Financial Associate JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Financial Associate CAETLIN M. OFIESH, Research Associate JARED P. ENO, Senior Program Assistant NICHOLAS D. ROGERS, Senior Program Assistant TONYA FONG YEE, Program Assistant
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Assessment of the Performance of Engineered Waste Containment Barriers Preface Engineered barriers to isolate potentially harmful waste from humans and ecosystems have been used for over 35 years, and much has been written about them and their constituent components. However, few reports have provided an overall assessment of the performance of engineered barrier systems. The last broad assessment was conducted in 1995 (Rumer and Mitchell, 1995). Since that time, new materials and sensor technologies have been introduced and models to predict contaminant transport have improved. At the request of program managers at the Environmental Protection Agency, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, National Science Foundation, and Department of Energy, the National Research Council established a committee to assess the effectiveness of surface and subsurface engineered barriers over the long term. The Committee to Assess the Performance of Engineered Barriers comprised academics and practitioners who collectively possessed expertise covering the science and technology of waste containment system regulations, analyses, design, construction, operations, maintenance, monitoring, and performance evaluation. The study was guided by recognition that a defensible assessment of the long-term performance of engineered waste barriers must take into account the materials acting both individually and as part of a composite containment system, the type of waste contained, and performance indicators such as leakage rates, contaminant concentrations, and the condition of system components, all as a function of time and location. Information on these and other aspects of barrier systems was gleaned from the literature, briefings at committee meetings and field trips, discussions with colleagues, and the knowledge and experience of committee members. The committee met four times between October 2005 and August 2006 and visited four engineered barrier facilities: the McColl Superfund Site and the Puente Hills Landfill in southern California and the Love Canal treatment facility and the Model City Landfill in New York. The committee thanks the following individuals for briefing the committee, hosting field trips, or providing background materials: Edmond Bourke, Rachel Detwiler, Brian Downie, Richard Fragaszy, John Hino, Ron Johnson, Jack Keener, Walter Kovalick, Kai Kuo, J. Michael Kuperberg, Kelly Madalinski, Don McLeod, Thomas Nicholson, Scott Parkhill, Jacob Philip, David Rothbart, Brian Sadowski, and Greg Zayatz. Special thanks go to Stephen Hammond and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, who provided data and information on the effectiveness of the state’s modern engineered barrier systems. Finally, the committee extends its thanks and appreciation to Anne Linn, who served so ably and cheerfully as study director. Without her organizational and writing skills, knowledge, enthusiasm, and ability to keep the committee focused and on track, completion of this study would not have been possible. James K. Mitchell, Chair
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Assessment of the Performance of Engineered Waste Containment Barriers Acknowledgments This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Craig H. Benson, University of Wisconsin, Madison Rudolph Bonaparte, Geosyntec Consultants, Atlanta, Georgia Jeffrey C. Evans, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania M. James Hendry, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Susan Hubbard, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California Stephan Jefferis, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom Robert M. Koerner, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Kenneth A. Snyder, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by William L. Fisher, The University of Texas at Austin. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of the report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
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Assessment of the Performance of Engineered Waste Containment Barriers Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 5 1.1 What Are Engineered Barriers?, 7 1.2 What Is Performance?, 8 1.3 Organization of the Report, 8 2 OVERVIEW OF ENGINEERED BARRIER SYSTEMS 11 2.1 Waste Classification and Disposal Requirements, 11 2.2 Engineered Barrier Systems, 11 2.3 Life Cycle of a Landfill, 17 3 MONITORING BARRIER PERFORMANCE 21 3.1 Statutory Requirements for Monitoring, 21 3.2 Containment Site Monitoring Systems, 22 3.3 Monitoring of Barrier Components, 27 3.4 Monitoring Frequency and Reporting, 35 3.5 Conclusions, 35 4 PERFORMANCE OF BARRIER SYSTEM COMPONENTS 37 4.1 Earthen Barriers, 37 4.2 Geomembranes, 44 4.3 Geosynthetic Clay Liners, 47 4.4 Drainage Layers, 51 4.5 Evapotranspirative Barriers, 54 4.6 Vertical Barriers, 55 4.7 Asphalt Concrete Barriers, 62 4.8 Summary and Conclusions, 62 5 CONTAINMENT SYSTEM PERFORMANCE 65 5.1 Observations of Performance, 65 5.2 Predicting the Performance of Barrier Systems, 78 5.3 Predicting the Overall Performance of Containment Systems, 89 5.4 Conclusions, 91 6 SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS 93 6.1 Engineered Barrier Performance, 93 6.2 Data Collection and Distribution, 93
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Assessment of the Performance of Engineered Waste Containment Barriers 6.3 Models, 96 6.4 Monitoring Periods, 96 6.5 Performance Criteria, 96 REFERENCES 99 APPENDIXES A Predicting Human Health and Ecological Impacts 111 B Methods for Monitoring Engineered Barrier Performance 113 C Construction Quality Assurance Monitoring Techniques 115 D Biographical Sketches of Committee Members 117 ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS 121