Geological Considerations in Disposal of Solid Municipal Wastes in Texas
enviorIn past decades, science fiction (horror) writers used to spawn monsters from putrifying garbage dumps--usually the creature was catalyzed by a violent electrical storm acting on the rotting mass of waste. Our time has a way of making science fiction come true--the monster is there. One arm is the sheer volume of solid wastes, the other is the environmental contamination resulting from improper interment of wastes in landfills, and the third arm is the rising cost of disposal. In the United States the average citizen produces 6 to 8 pounds of solid waste per day--this includes his personal contribution plus his pro-rata share of industrial and agricultureal wastes. A city of 200,000 to 300,000 people is faced with collecting, transporting, and disposing of about 400 tons to 500 tons of solid wastes every day. This is the amount produced by the residents and small businesses--it does not include the wastes from big industrial operations. Costs of solid waste disposal range from $10 to $30 per ton depending on local labor costs, the distance the material must be transported, and the costs of acquisition and operation of disposal sites. In Texas, cost of landfill operations alone averages $1.10 per ton (Gazda and Maline, 1969, p. 23). The practice of open burning of wastes at the disposal site has been discontinued in many areas because of air pollution control legislation. This increases the volume of material that must be buried. In some areas the volume of solid wastes is reduced by high temperature incinerators prior to ultimate disposal, in others controlled burning of wastes produces by-product stream. Currently in Texas some four municipal incinerators are in operation.