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Landfill Closures and the Reuse of Land

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Landfill closure refers to the process of closing a landfill to give room for the use of land in other productive activities (Christensen, 2011). People resort to closing landfills partly because of the need for more land, which can serve as recreational and settlement areas. This has been common in urban areas where recreational space has been scarce. Development of real estate can be appropriate on the land that has been a landfill (Christensen, 2011). Therefore, conversion of landfills into recreational spaces may be extremely profitable. However, it is necessary to consider various issues, such as slope stability, control of poisonous gases, and drainage control, before reusing a landfill (Worrell & Vesilind, 2012). This paper will consider protection of the composite cap of a landfill, production of methane gas, and differential settlement of landfill waste as the issues that people should take into account when reusing landfills upon closures.

Protection of the composite cap of a landfill is extremely necessary when reusing a landfill. Therefore, individuals should avoid various activities, such as cultivation and grazing of cattle, which may damage the composite cap of the landfill. Cultivation and grazing of cattle may accelerate the denudation processes on the composite cap (Christensen, 2011). Damage of the composite cap will increase infiltration of water into the landfill waste, thereby leading to the generation of toxic gases upon decomposition. Creation of a soccer field is among the most appropriate developments on landfills upon closure. This is because recreational activities do not lead to the denudation of the composite cap.

Decomposition of biodegradable waste may lead to the production of methane gas, hydrogen sulfide, and other organic substances (Worrell & Vesilind, 2012). The mixture of methane gas and air is explosive, which can be hazardous to the occupants on the landfills. This may lead to fire incidents because methane gas is highly inflammable. Methane gas and hydrogen sulfide also lead to asphyxiation at high concentrations upon displacing oxygen gas. Therefore, people should not construct enclosed structures, such as residential houses on the landfills because of the harmful effects of methane gas and hydrogen sulfide to human beings.

Differential settlement of landfill waste is another issue that individuals should consider before reusing a landfill upon closure (Christensen, 2011). Decomposition of the waste materials may lead to the collapse of the layers of soil above the landfill. This will result in the instability of the ground above the closed landfills. The layers of the earth above the landfills may settle at different rates, leading to the creation of depressions and dips, which may be hazardous to human beings (Christensen, 2011). These occurrences may lead to death and destruction of property due to cracking and sinking of houses and other enclosed structures. Therefore, people should not construct roads, houses, and other enclosed structures on landfills upon closure.

In conclusion, landfill closures and reuse of land have been common in urban areas where space for the creation of recreation facilities is scarce. Soccer fields are some of the suitable recreational facilities that people create on landfills upon closure. This is because leisure activities may not lead to the denudation of the composite cap of closed landfills. Other activities, such as cultivation and grazing of cattle, may increase the chances of denudation thereby result in high infiltration of water into the organic waste below the composite cap (Christensen, 2011). Water will accelerate decomposition of the organic wastes, which will lead to the production of harmful gases, such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia gas. Decomposition of the organic waste may also enhance differential settlement of the landfill waste. Therefore, people should consider protection of the composite cap of a landfill, production of methane gas, and differential settlement of landfill waste before reusing closed landfills.        

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