A Modern Landfill
‘First’ is a word Fredericton Region Solid Waste (FRSW) has become very familiar with throughout the years. FRSW was the first regional sanitary landfill in New Brunswick and the first to bale its garbage. It also boasts the first curbside recycling program in NB, the province’s first office paper collection program, the first to construct a recycling facility and develop a household hazardous waste program as well as the first to install and operate a Landfill Gas Collection System in the province. As part of the Landfill Gas Collection System process, FRSW’s project became the first in Canada to be verified allowing it to see carbson credits on the international Blue Registry.
Solid waste brought to the landfill is disposed of in the most environmentally sensitive way possible. This starts with the construction of a cell to hold the waste. The landfill is located on land between two large drumlins of clay which is integral in landfilling. Clay acts as a natural barrier between garbage and the surrounding soil and water supply. We don’t let the clay do all the work, a geo membrane which has the consistency of a vinyl record, is also placed in the cell to act as another barrier between the waste and the surrounding environment. A cell is about one hectare in size.
Once a cell is completed, bales of solid waste are then placed into it. It takes about two years to fill a cell with garbage.
The Practice of Baling Solid Waste
In 1993, FRSW became the first landfill in Atlantic Canada to bale solid waste. Baling involves garbage being placed in a large compactor which compresses the waste into rectangular cubes. Baling reduces the environmental impact of leachate, keeps the site clean by reducing and preventing blowing litter; and helps extend the lifespan of the landfill. One bale weighs approximately 1,500 kg.
Once a bale is produced, it’s taken to the landfill site and placed in a cell. About 120,000 bales can fit in one cell. Bales are added to cells daily and covered with clean gravel. When the cell is full, it is covered with one metre of clay. About 30 centimetres of topsoil is spread over the clay and seeded. The end result is a grass field sloped to aid in runoff.
Leachate is the liquid waste formed when rain and snow drain through the cells of a landfill. At the FRSW site, leachate is collected and piped to a biological treatment lagoon. Leachate is collected through pipes at the bottom of the cells and gravity pulls it to the lagoon.
Once the leachate reaches the lagoon, treatment begins. The first step is to encourage biological activity in the leachate through a specially designed oxygen injection system. Oxygen helps introduce microorganisms that eat away at the pollutants in leachate. The liquid stays in the lagoon and is treated for about 120 days.
After about four months of treatment, the leachate is piped to the City of Fredericton’s wastewater facility and treated again before being safely released into the environment. In addition to the leachate treatment lagoon, FRSW regularly monitors surface and groundwater at the site to ensure all environmental protection systems are functioning properly.