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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that flexible membrane liners are the most practical way of minimizing pollutant releases from hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. Other geosynthetic products including geotextiles, geonets, and plastic pipes are being used to construct leachate collection, detection, and removal systems. Geosynthetics are also being used in cover systems to minimize the infiltration of water into the waste management unit.
Although geosynthetics have recognized durability aspects, it is necessary to know more about the aging characteristics of polymeric materials as they function in modern waste disposal environments. To answer this question, the EPA held an ad hoc meeting in 1987 to determine if conclusions could be reached on the service life of geosynthetics and where, if any, were the data gaps. To help address the issue, representatives from polymer manufacturers, the engineering profession, and research fields were assembled to provide insight to the problem.
This paper discusses the consensus report developed as a result of that meeting. Specific areas that were discussed include chemical, mechanical, and biological stresses that may be encountered by geosynthetics in waste management facilities. The report concluded that currently used polymeric materials in waste management facilities do not encounter degradation conditions for the base polymer, and that these base polymers should last hundreds of years. However, inappropriate applications can lead to premature failures.
hazardous waste, municipal waste, biodegradation, service life, chemical stresses, biological stresses, mechanical stresses, flexible membrane liner
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Risk Reduction Engineering Laboratory, Cincinnati, OH