Any form of garbage dump, nuisance grounds, refuse disposal site or sanitary landfill operation will cause three basic kinds of pollution. These are:
1.aesthetic pollution - offensive visually and conceptually
2.air pollution - offensive nasally, detrimental to health
3.water pollution - detrimental to health.
In our opinion the basic problems and the basic principles relating to garbage disposal are relatively well defined, and in terms of immediate application to Alberta situations no need exists for an interdisciplinary research project.
The ramifications of aesthetic pollution are self-evident, as are the various degrees of problem solution. People dislike the sight and smell of a garbage dump and prefer not to live near one. One can most desirably have no garbage dumps, for example, complete reuse or complete incineration as proposed by Lilge, 1969:
The traditional means of disposing of rubbish, i.e. by burying it in out of the way places, are no longer satisfactory. The danger of contaminating ground waters, rivers and lakes is far too serious to continue this practice. Apart from this, refuse dump locations, which are situated at economical distances from the gathering sources, are now practically nonexistent in most cities. Obviously a new approach to disposal of city refuses must be found.
The conversion of city refuse to useful products would be a solution to all aspects of the disposal problem and in addition would provide a new source of materials and energy.'
On the second level of desirability one can locate dumps in little-travelled and lightly inhabited areas, screened from public view by trees, which also helps prevent widespread wind distribution of garbage over the surrounding countryside. Other methods of alleviating aesthetic pollution problems include incineration and sanitary landfill operations. The former causes air pollution, the latter may lead to pollution of both groundwater and surface water.
Although not within our sphere of competence, it seems fairly evident to us that air pollution is measurable, and is controllable to the extent that specific limits are definable (and are defined) for emission of particulate matter and gases to the atmosphere.
The remaining area of concern is that of water pollution, which takes place by the flow of leachates from garbage piles into groundwater aquifers and surface water systems. This appears to be an area of uncertainty in Alberta, and yet as mentioned previously the basic problems of water pollution by garbage leachates and the basic principles involved have been relatively well defined by recent work in the United States, particularly in Illinois (see reference listings). These principles are clearly applicable to Alberta situations, although quantitative factors may differ (e.g. climate, rainfall, volumes of water movement through garbage, chemical and biochemical reaction rates in garbage piles). Three significant differences between Illinois and Alberta situations are:
1.rainfall, which in Alberta is roughly half that of Illinois
2.frost-free period, which in much of Alberta is roughly half that of Illinois
3.bedrock aquifers, which are much more permeable in Illinois than in Alberta.
All three factors suggest that water pollution problems originating from refuses dumps in Alberta will be smaller than in Illinois.
Green, R. and Currie, D.V. (1970): Criteria for selection of sites for solid waste disposal; Research Council of Alberta, RCA/AGS Open File Report 1970-02, 17 p.