Waste characterization and disposal

To map the pollution potential of the waste that is deposited, the waste regulations requires a chemical and physical characterization with documentation of its leaching properties. Moreover, there are specific requirements for bottom, and side sealing for different landfill categories (inert, ordinary and hazardous waste). An important part of the bottom/side sealing is the geological barrier which should consist of a dense mineral material.

NGI has broad experience with both the waste characterization and assessments and design related to suitable bottom/side sealing material for all landfill categories. Our environment laboratory is accredited for the standard leaching tests according to the requirements in the waste regulations.

Assessment of environmental risks

Pollution from old mines and landfills through seepage to groundwater and surface water can pose a risk to the surrounding environment. When new landfills are established, these could be a potential pollution source, if they are not performed (and managed) in a proper way.

The need for local and adapted mapping of both the geological, hydrogeological and geochemical conditions is inherent, as the basis for the assessment of environmental risk and impact of emissions. We are conducting both mapping by sampling of leachate, ground and surface water with innovative sampling methods (passive samplers), soil borings and sampling and laboratory testing.

We have long experience from the assessment of the environmental risks of landfills both under and above ground level.

Reuse of waste

The scarcity of resources and increased environmental focus has contributed to greater awareness around reuse of waste. Many types of waste from industry (rest products such as slag and ash) and construction activities (e.g. concrete, lightly contaminated soil) often has good technical properties and a low pollution potential that enables reuse.

Through model studies in the laboratory and good knowledge of the geotechnical and geoenvironmental characteristics of the material we the ability to evaluate the suitability for reuse of the waste material.

Through close collaboration with our clients, NGI aims to develop technology that makes the residual products and waste suitable for construction or fill purposes. Other areas are stabilization of contaminated soil from the shooting field, that can be applied more useful than the disposal in landfills for hazardous waste which requires transport across borders.

Measures to reduce the risk

If the pollution from landfills and mine tailings is unacceptable, this requires the implementation of risk-reduction measures. Often, the objective is to reduce the penetration of surface water (precipitation) and ground water to prevent the formation of leachate. For mine tailings the challenge is to reduce the formation of acidic runoff (Acid Mine Drainage, AMD).

NGI works for sustainable solutions with long-term perspective by testing out robust solutions of natural and permanent concealment materials.

NGI's expertise

  • Insight into how pollution and contaminants in waste and soil behave and proliferation to the environment
  • Assessment of environmental risks in connection with deposition above and below the ground
  • The use of model tests in the lab to describe and predict behavior and dispersion of contaminants
  • The basic characterization of the waste properties
  • Review of reuse of waste in structures such as fills, roads and barriers
  • Development of locally adapted measures for landfills and old polluted mine tailings, with a focus on long-term sustainable solutions
  • Mapping of natural geological barriers and both natural materials and residual products for the top sealing of landfills.

Research and development

NGI is working on sustainable solutions to develop methods for field investigations, risk assessment and cleanup of landfills. The most central themes within the NGI R&D work within landfills, waste and mines are:

  • Behavior and fate of contaminants in waste. Emissions in connection with the handling of waste and effect (R&D project WASTEFFECT)
  • Stabilization solutions for waste before disposal to reduce the pollution potential
  • Development of concealment solutions to reduce pollution from landfills and tailings mass from mining operations.