SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1985

Subsurface Pollution Containment Using a Composite System Vertical Cutoff Barrier


A new concept for constructing a vertical impermeable barrier to prevent the migration of polluted groundwater or leachate from a contaminated site or waste disposal area is presented. The composite system is a hybrid cutoff wall constructed with high density polyethylene (HDPE) and sand backfill and is installed using the slurry trench construction method. When installed, a very low permeability, composite, vertical barrier is established with unique engineering properties, including improved chemical resistance, leak detection, and groundwater migration control.

A full-scale construction test project of the system was performed at an existing sanitary landfill in New Jersey in the fall of 1982 to demonstrate the overall fabrication and construction procedures. The test project was conducted in three phases: (1) the excavation of a trench filled with the bentonite slurry mixture through the landfill waste; (2) the cutting and seaming of HDPE material to form an envelope; and (3) the placement of the envelope and subsequent backfilling with sand and water. The success of the operation under often difficult conditions proved that the theory and construction concept of the composite system barrier can be utilized to construct a cutoff wall. Useful information for future applications at contaminated sites was gained.

Author Information

Druback, GW
Wehran Engineering Corp., Middletown, NY
Arlotta, SV
Wehran Engineering Corp., Middletown, NY
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Developed by Committee: D18
Pages: 24–33
DOI: 10.1520/STP34563S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-4939-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-0417-4