Thursday, March 12, 2020

Homeschool Science: Field Trip to a Landfill!!!

Want to see some frustratingly low-quality photographs of a landfill, taken on a foggy, snowy day through the window of a 12-passenger van by a person sitting in the middle of the back row?

Of COURSE you do! It's a LANDFILL!!!

This particular landfill has been in operation since 1971, and was sold to its current owners when expansive legislative changes meant that the landfill would have to make a lot of improvements to its infrastructure that the original owners balked at. One of those improvements is the cut-off wall that extends underground more than 91 feet until it reaches shale. It's intended to isolate the landfill from the surrounding ground and the watershed, so that leachate--remember Syd's adventures with leachate?!?--can't escape and contaminate the community. The wall doesn't extend above-ground, but you can see occasional markers that show it is.

The incinerator is a different waste disposal company next door; you can see their smokestack in this photo:

Fun fact: incinerators, themselves, are not waste-free. The ash leftover from incineration is toxic and also must be disposed of in a sanitary landfill such as this one.

Second fun fact: yesterday, the kids and I took a field trip to a recycling facility in this same city. When they get materials that they can't recycle, they send them to this incinerator!

Third fun fact: there might be a field trip to that incinerator in the works...

You can also see in the photo above the mesh netting that surrounds the landfill. That keeps the wind from blowing trash away.

Because the landfill is saving space for future municipal solid waste storage, they have some land that they lease to other companies. Below is a working quarry within the landfill; it supplies, among other things, the gravel for the roads that go over and around the landfill:

And here's the working section of the landfill! There's a specific grade to the sides of the landfill that must be maintained, and that's what limits the landfill's height. Here, a truck has just finished dumping another load of municipal solid waste onto the top of this section:

 And now the compactor is spreading the waste and then rolling over it to compact it. The compactor is VERY heavy and huge:

There would be a lot more to see if it wasn't snowy and foggy and grey, alas, but still, this was enough of a taste to get the idea, and the kids have a little more context for their understanding of municipal solid waste and how it's handled in a community setting.

It was VERY different from the recycling facility that we toured this week!

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