Some people believe that dumpsites are a problem that concerns developing countries only. Well, there is nothing as misleading as that. See this statement. “The research is alarming,” said the UK Friends of the Earth Campaigner Guy Shrubsole. “Britain’s leaky landfills could turn out to be a toxic timebomb – and it’s clear that some are already leaching waste and chemicals into our watercourses.”
Thousands of landfill dumps around the UK are at risk of being compromised by flooding and coastal erosion, sparking fears that dangerous substances could spill into rivers, streets and beaches, academics warn. The UK faces a “toxic timebomb” after an analysis of its ageing dumps revealed that 2,946 are located in flood plains, experts say. Furthermore, 1,655 of these “historical” landfill sites contain dangerous materials such as hazardous chemicals and asbestos, according to calculations for The Independent by Dr Daren Gooddy of the British Geological Society (BGS).
It is obvious that dumpsites, besides the crucial health impacts, create long-term environmental impacts even when they are closed, especially when they leach in water bodies. The risk patterns posed by dumpsites change with the changing flood patterns and the expected rise of the sea level and that creates the need for an updated and more detailed risk assessment even for closed dumpsites. I consider this as a major component of the urgent climate adaptation plans for our waste management systems, in each and every vulnerable area. As I have already written “Already, there are events even in developed countries that outline the serious impacts of the current underestimation of the importance of waste management adaptation strategies. As an example, 30% of 1064 Austrian landfills are in areas where flooding is a major risk. A 25.000 m3 old landfill was completely eroded during a 2005 flood of Alfenz River in Austria, resulted in water pollution events. And the famous Elbe River flood on 2002 created landfill and dumpsites erosion which contributed in heavy metal and arsenic contamination.”
Instead of epilogue: please remember that dumpsites are a global health emergency, even when they are closed!