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Canyonlands: Needles District. Waste Disposal -- A Problem in 3 Parts 1. Garbage 2. Hazardous Waste 3. Equity Issues: Environmental Justice?

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Presentation on theme: "Canyonlands: Needles District. Waste Disposal -- A Problem in 3 Parts 1. Garbage 2. Hazardous Waste 3. Equity Issues: Environmental Justice?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Canyonlands: Needles District

2 Waste Disposal -- A Problem in 3 Parts 1. Garbage 2. Hazardous Waste 3. Equity Issues: Environmental Justice?

3 from “Pogo” by Walt Kelly

4 Garbage & Garbage Disposal: A Brief History Hunter-gatherers leave no traces Settlements have garbage –Middens Diet Technology Garbage disposal is problematic –One of the 7 hills of Rome is garbage Garbage includes –Construction/demolition debris –Broken irreparable artifacts –Manufacturing waste –Discarded paper, etc? –Inedible parts of food? –Excrement? Historically –Household wastes kitchen midden privy In cities, kennel ran down street for liquid waste disposal –Commercial waste Solids into pit or heap Liquids into soil or creek 19th century –First efforts at organized disposal waste collectors –“night soil” –other wastes Role of recycling was critical –Fats ---> soap –Rags ---> paper –Food wastes ---> pigs, dogs

5 Idealized picture of a medieval village. Note: overhanging 2nd storeys; creek; sewage outflow from wall; smoke creating air pollution.

6 Garbage An old problem is still with us

7 20th Century Waste Disposal Introduction of sewer systems –London: sewers laid before 1910 Sewage discharged into Thames (1910 Brittanica disapproves) –Germany: In Swabia, ‘night soil’ still used to fertilize fields after WWI –Mid-20th century US: –Rural vs urban –Dumps for discarded items –Recycling continued through WW II –Post-WW II tax breaks for using new raw materials Modern waste disposal –Begins ~ 1965 (in the US)

8 Waste Disposal: Denmark ca st waste incineration plant: 1903 Modern incineration plant City dump phase

9 Waste Disposal in 3rd World Nations

10 Waste Disposal: USA, until ca 1965 Modern Era: beginning ca Open dumps seen as –Unsightly –Unsanitary Different waste streams recognized –Garbage ---> household waste –Commercial waste ---> Ordinary waste ----> Hazardous waste –Solid –Liquid Phased process –Initially, self-determined –Subsequently, regulations Impetus –1970s hazwaste scandals Love Canal Valley of the Drums

11 Recycling and Re-Use Recycling –Refashions discarded materials into something else Rubber tires into asphalt Pop bottles into –fleece –park benches –Energy savings may be considerable 90% for aluminum –Problems with complex materials Plastic soda bottles Re-Use –Material is used for same purpose –Most commonly industrial Solvents Precursor chemicals –vinyl chloride

12 Recycling Plastics: 7 facts 1.Unlike aluminum or paper, plastics are not recycled to the same use. 2.Curbside collection may increase landfilling of plastics. 3.The ‘chasing arrows’ on the container are meaningless. 4.Packaging resins are not made from oil refinery wastes. 5.Plastic producers don’t pay to promote plastic recycling –they just pay for the ads saying their plastic can be recycled 6.Using plastic containers does not conserve energy --re-useable containers are most energy-efficient 7.The choice is not between recycling and tossing in the garbage- Use refillable containers Use less packaging Buy in bulk Re-use containers

13 Plans for the 2,200 acre Fresh Kills landfill, Staten Island, NY And after we’ve disposed of it?

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15 Canyonlands: Island in the Sky District

16 What is Hazardous Waste? Toxic Inflammable Corrosive Infectious

17 And Where Do We Dispose of It? Store it –In a secure landfill –On site Destroy it –By incineration Decontaminate it –Infectious waste Neutralize it –Corrosive waste Valley of the Drums acres in Bullitt County, KY Regulations for “small quantity generators” can be found at

18 (1985 data)

19 (These sites currently accept hazwastes.)

20 Current Technology and Past Failures Facts: –Modern regulations were phased in after 1965 –“Age of chemicals” began in 1945 –Lots of chemicals were used - and disposed of - before 1965 and even before 1945 Consequences –Numerous unregulated sites contained hazardous wastes by 1965 –A few more were added before regulations became firm

21 (actually Region 5)

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23 NPL= Nat’l Priorities List 1.7 million people in Region V

24 EPA’s Estimate of Facilities Producing Hazwastes in 1981

25 Berkely Mine pit near Butte, MO: arguably the most toxic mine waste site in US

26 Berkeley Pit, Butte MT Former copper mine (Anaconda, Atlantic Richfield) Operated mile by 1/2 mile 1780’ deep - containing 900’ pH 2.5 –As, Cd, Zn, H 2 SO ppm -- can be mined. After closure, pumps turned off. Groundwater seeped in, is now within 150’ of natural water table. 1990s: Superfund site and tourist attraction –adjacent gift shop. –$2 admission fee for viewing platform.

27 International Waste Management Basel Convention, 1989 –Transboundary movement of hazwastes Stockholm Convention, 1995 –regulates international movement of POPs –persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals –“dirty dozen” Rotterdam Convention, 1998 –Regulates international movement of about 30 hazardous chemicals Each of these conventions continues to modify the list of chemicals and how they should be managed.

28 HazWaste Legislation CERCLA, 1980 –Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act –“Superfund” –1280 sites RCRA, 1976 –Resource Conservation and –Recovery Act Superfund Sites: 2010 current proposed cleaned up

29 Constructing the Trenches :

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31 Covering the Trenches

32 What is a Secure Hazwaste Landfill?

33 Modern HazWaste Landfills in the U.S.

34 Chemical Waste Management (6) EnviroSafe Services (2) Laidlaw Environmental Services (7) MAX Environmental Technologies Peoria Disposal Texas Ecologists U. S. Ecology Waste Control Specialists Wayne Disposal, Inc 9 Companies Run These 21 Hazwaste Landfills

35 Landfilling Alternatives: Incineration Advantages –Destroys waste –Minimizes landfilling –Can generate energy Co-incineration Waste-to-energy systems Disadvantages –Not suitable for all waste streams Wet wastes require fuel –Suitable wastes can also be recycled Paper Polyethylene – Effluents are gases Hard to control Widely dispersed –Ash may be very toxic Must be landfilled –Burning generates additional toxicants Dioxins

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38 Hazardous Wastes: Possibilities for Recycling and Re-Use Recycling –Refashions discarded materials into something else Rubber tires into asphalt –Energy savings may be considerable 90% for aluminum –Problems with complex materials Waste streams are usually complex –Liability issues Re-Use –Material is used for same purpose –Most commonly industrial Solvents Precursor chemicals –vinyl chloride –Liability issues –Trade secrets –Processes often create hazards

39 Recycling electronic waste from the US in Ghan, India and China

40 Garbage is international - and so are hazardous wastes

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42 W Sahara Angola Somalia Zimbabwe Gabon North Korea Burma Laos Afghanistan U.S.A.

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44 Hazardous Waste 2. Environmental Justice?

45 Paradigms of Government, Environmental Disputes and Environmental Justice

46 The Language of Environmental Disputes: Paradigms of Government 1.The Scientific Manager Assumptions –There is a single common good. –Expertise is impartial and serves this common good. –Participatory democracy cannot deal with technological complexity. –It is always possible to distinguish political from technical decisions. –An educated public will recognize the common good and agree to it. Consequences –The managerial voice model of government Bring in the experts. Make the decision. An educated public will agree with you –If they don ’ t they are ignorant or malicious. Robert Moses

47 The Language of Environmental Disputes: Paradigms of Government 2. The Managerial or Pluralistic Voice –Economic paradigms became more important Recognizes competing ‘ public goods ’ –For HasWaste facilities »Consumers, who want cheap goods »Manufacturers, who need to dispose of wastes »Residents affected by site Official expertise alone does not suffice Controversy is appropriate –Each ‘ public ’ »Acts in its enlightened self interest »Is well informed –Civil debate leads to acceptable compromise

48 Common Elements of HazWaste Disputes Hazardous waste problems are typically –Identified by residents –Initially dismissed by authorities –Extremely acrimonious Every fact is disputed Every action on either side is construed as malicious by opponents Residents –Are hostile to all authority (except the few who are unequivocally on their side) –Disbelieve all assurances Authorities –First dismiss the problem –Then minimize it –Accuse residents of Stupidity or ignorance Greed Attention-seeking Scientists are typically –On both sides of the issue –Dogmatic either way

49 HazWastes and Environmental Decisions A small group of people stand to lose everything Traditional environmental organizations are not interested ‘Ticky-tacky houses’ Resources are not equal Love Canal residents vs –City –State –Federal government Uncertainties Magnitude of health effects Safety of new sites Effectiveness of clean-ups

50 LULUs and NIMBYs LULU –Locally unwanted land use NIMBY –Not in My Back Yard Grass-roots approach Specific sites ad hoc organizations Examples of LULUs –Yucca Flats –Incinerators –Secure landfills –Any landfill –Day care centers –Wal-Mart –Highways

51 Siting Hazardous Waste Disposal in the Late 20th Century Wilsonville –Southern Illinois Kankakee incinerator Yucca Flats –190 mi NW of Las Vegas –Near site of past nuclear testing –Deposition to begin 1998 Still not begun?

52 Yucca Flats 190 mi NW of Las Vegas Near site of past nuclear testing Deposition to begin 1998 –Still not begun?


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