Landfills: A Growing Menace


When asked to think of the largest man made structure, people will
invariably come up with an answer like The Great Wall of China, the Great
Pyramids, or the Taj Majal. In contrast to these striking achievements of
mankind is the Durham Road Landfill outside San Francisco, which occupies over
seventy million cubic feet. It is a sad monument to the excesses of modern
society [Gore 151]. One must think this huge reservoir of garbage must be the
largest thing ever produced by human hands then. Unhappily, this is not the case.
The Fresh Kills Landfill, located on Staten Island, is the largest landfill in
the world. It sports an elevation of 155 feet, an estimated mass of 100 million
tons, and ...

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a tidal marsh. In 1948, New York
City planner Robert Moses developed a highly praised project to deposit
municipal garbage in the swamp until the level of the land was above sea level.
A study of the area predicted the marsh would be filled by the year 1968. He
then planned to develop the area, building houses and attracting light industry
over the landfill. The Fresh Kills Landfill was originally meant to be a
conservation project that would benefit the environment. The mayor of New York
City issued a report titled "The Fresh Kills Landfill Project" in 1951 which
stated, in part, that the project "cannot fail to affect constructively a wide
area around it." The report ended by stating, "It is at once practical and
idealistic" [Rathje 4]. One must appreciate the irony in the fact that Robert
Moses was considered a leading conservationist in his time. His major
accomplishments include building asphalt parking lots throughout the New York
Metro area, paved roads in and out of ...

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from rain water mixing with fluids in the garbage,
making a highly toxic fluid containing inks, heavy metals, and other poisonous
compounds. Ideally, leachates are pumped up from collection points along the
bottom of the landfill and either shipped to liquid waste disposal points or re-
introduced into the upper layers of garbage to resume the cycle. Unfortunately,
most landfills have no such pumping system. [Miller 527]. Until the formation
of the Environmental Protection Agency by President Nixon in 1970, there were
virtually no regulations governing the construction, operation, and closure of
landfills. As a result of this lack of legislation, 85 percent of all landfills
existing in ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 11/30/2008 05:34:07 PM
Category: Science & Nature
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1514
Pages: 6

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