Slurry cutoff walls are frequently relied upon to block groundwater flows from toxic waste sites and landfills. The long-term effectiveness of slurry cutoff wall materials is critical to the successful containment of these facilities and the protection of groundwater resources. A variety of laboratory indicator tests have been attempted by engineers and academia to make compatibility determinations but at present there has been little published experience to show which tests produce meaningful results and how these tests can be used to demonstrate compatibility.
Hydraulic conductivity is a useful measure of chemica1/soil compatibility but permeability tests alone cannot assure the long-term stability of a slurry cutoff wall. A suite of indicator tests are used where the leachate and the proposed materials are combined and tested in immersion, desiccation, sedimentation, and other modes. Each indicator test attempts to model a different scenario of the slurry cutoff wall installation and operation.
This paper presents the experience of a specialty contractor from a number of projects, where an incompatibility was discovered and alternate materials were used to find a successful solution. Monitoring results from these sites has proven the effectiveness of the chosen solution. The laboratory test methods described are relatively simple and rely on worst-case scenarios, performed in a step-by-step process, that culminates with flexible wall permeability tests. Based on the methods described and the results from successful projects where these methods were used, engineers, owners and the public may better rely on long-term slurry cutoff wall performance with an increased level of confidence.