How Should We Dispose Hazardous Wastes?

by David Anderson, Assoc.; K. Y. Brown & Assoc., College Station, Tex.,
Beth Frentrup, K. Y. Brown & Assoc., College Station, Tex.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1984, Vol. 54, Issue 4, Pg. 42-45

Document Type: Feature article


Our inability to successfully dispose hazardous wastes has led to extensive land, groundwater and surface water pollution. The question is not whether we have the technology to do the job, but whether we want to bear the cost of cleaning up our wastes now or letting future generations do it at costs that are higher. Presently, we dispose hazardous wastes through surface impoundments, below ground landfills, and deep well injection, although all three methods are deeply flawed from an environmental aspect. It is proposed that we first reduce hazardous waste through reuse, recycling, waste exchange, etc., then land treat readily degradable organics and non-hazardous inorganics that would be beneficial soil amendments, incinerate all other organics, and landfill hazardous inorganics and incinerator residues in aboveground facilities. This could be accomplished if the present regulatory framework is changed to include economic incentives and enforced regulatory restrictions that promote the best management practices instead of the most economic.

Subject Headings: Soil treatment | Hazardous wastes | Waste disposal | Groundwater pollution | Surface water | Landfills | Waste treatment plants | Incineration

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