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Home > Natural Resources > Land Management for Sustainable Communities and Natural Resources

Waste Solutions for Toxic Chemical Dumping

Toxic waste sites have been difficult to identify and solve once dumping happens.

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Waste Solutions for Toxic Local Water Supplies

Ironically, the tightening of restrictions on waste disposal and the enforcement of new recycling laws have made illegal toxic dumping more likely, turning illegal waste solutions into big business for the criminals involved.

Waste solutions are not easy. Even finding and analyzing the suspect materials pose a threat to the environment and surrounding community. Digging up suspect disposal sites to investigate their contents can release toxins into local water supplies.

Toxic Chemical and Toxic Waste Solutions

New solutions are being developed to provide "non-invasive" research and identification of the materials buried illegally.

Remote Sensors Identify Toxic Waste Dumps

Remote-sensing waste solution techniques, such as ground-penetrating radar (GPR), can locate toxic trash without disturbing the soil. Microwaves are bounced off buried waste materials and the strength of returning signals provides clues to what types of waste they are.

Geophysical techniques can be used to characterize the waste. Geophysical surveys provide solutions by seeing right through soft, diggable soils that make attractive waste burial sites.

Some companies use transient electromagnetic methods (TEM) for this non-invasive research of toxic waste dumps. TEM is a form of GPR in which electric and magnetic fields are induced in the ground by an electric current pulsing through a coil. It can be carried out from a helicopter hovering 10 metres above the waste site. Surveillance of waste sites can also be conducted via satellite.

As illegally buried waste sites tend to be located near industrial sites, landfills and roads, Sonia Silvestri of the Italian construction firm consortium, Consorzio Venezia Nuova in Venice drew up a map of potential illegal waste sites in a region of north-east Italy. Her team narrowed down the search by scrutinizing IKONOS satellite images for patches of disturbed vegetation that indicate waste disposal sites.

Of 34 potential waste sites identified from space as potential illegal dumps, chemical analyses have shown contamination at 17. Police investigations to track down those responsible for these hazardous waste sites have begun.

Reports of new strategies for toxic disposal site solutions have been presented at the International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium in Sardinia.

Read more at New Scientist.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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