This site is found in New Jersey where it was initially a pit developed because of Titanium mining process. However, by 1970, the local mining company made it a Township. From 1972, Jackson Township Landfill was used as a site of dumping coffee waste and liquid septic in large quantities (Ulrich & Wright, 2012). At the time, there were only few homes around. In 1977, people occupying this place started complaining of contamination of the water they were using. Cohansey Aquifer and other organic chemicals had penetrated into shallow wells of drinking water. Therefore, the residents were instructed not to use such water. The public water supply organization provided safe drinking water from deep wells.
Pollutants on the Site
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Heavy metals and volatile organic chemicals were the main pollutants found in this site. Township Landfill has failed to prevent chemicals from infiltrating into drinking water wells. Such chemicals include ketone, chloroform, ethylene chloride, ethylene benzene, acetone, benzene, tetrahydrofuran, and dichlorofluoromethane among others (Ulrich & Wright, 2012). They had contaminated the sources of drinking water near the site and polluted the whole environment. Residents were at the risk of inhaling toxic substances thereby increasing the chances of disease outbreaks. The contamination has been on increase since 1978 and has led to complete dependency on municipal water suppliers. It increased the number of people seeking medical services.
The Extent of Contamination
The level of water contamination was high near the site. This is because the volatile organic chemicals evaporated and spread in the nearby areas than areas far away. In addition, because the landfill was not cemented or protected from leaching the chemicals, the nearby ground water sources were most contaminated. The place was undeveloped when the dumping site was established and the residents were using shallow wells to get drinking water (Barton & Zoback, 1991). Additionally, it was confirmed that contamination had occurred even in private potable wells. In 1980, it was found that these toxic substances contaminated 130 wells in the area. This resulted in many complaints of low quality of water from the people living near this landfill.
The extent of air pollution was most concentrated in the nearby areas. The volatile chemicals were also spreading in the air thereby being inhaled. Bad smells from the landfill made the environment unfavorable. Soil was contaminated in the surrounding areas. This made the inhabitants develop health problems from eating food products planted in the area. These contaminations were experienced mostly in 1978 to 1980 because Jackson Township Landfill did not reveal all the details (Parker & Cherry, 1994). The contaminations have decreased from 1980 onwards, as the necessary precautions have been implemented.
Number of people Harmed
There is no exact number of people harmed in this landfill. This is because people were reporting their health problems in different time when effects of the exposure had occurred. Most people had skin problems, such as dryness, acnes, hives, itching, redness, psoriasis, scaling, blisters, sore gums, and lips among others (Agency for toxic substance and disease registry, 2009). Women were most affected with itching and dryness. Skin irritation was affecting majority of people both males and females because of bathing with contaminated water. Eye irritation on the other hand, was not as much reported as skin irritation.
Psoriasis affected people taking a bath frequently. Acnes problems occurred to those people that did not shower often. Hives, dryness, and scaling were mostly reported by those showering or bathing 5 times in a week. A large number of people reported blisters, itching and redness. Most of the people involved in washing dishes using groundwater were affected by skin problems than those who did not (Agency for toxic substance and disease registry, 2009).
Groundwater contamination also increased the rate of pregnancy problems, such as abortions, miscarriages, low birth weight, and stillbirths. Birth defects because of exposure of the mother to the groundwater caused congenital anomalies. The babies could die after one day of congenital heart disease. Anoxic-ischemic caused child deaths after one year and half exposure to groundwater.
Other complicated diseases resulting from exposure to this landfill include urinary track diseases, bladder, and kidney problems (Agency for toxic substance and disease registry 2009). Kidney problems were more prevalent in women compared to men. Thirty-two kidney problems were reported, where 22 women and 2 men had kidney infections. Chronic kidney disorders had occurred in six women and two men. In these eight cases, the common complications in chronic kidney reported include left kidney removed, pain in the right kidney, kidney stones, right kidney removed, and total kidney failure. Hypertension and bronchitis were other diseases that resulted from exposure to groundwater (Agency for toxic substance and disease registry, 2009).
Studies Carried out at the Site
Many studies were done on the site targeting specific areas, but mainly environmental. They included studies on the soil, surface water, underground water, sediment, and air (Ulrich & Wright, 2012). The studies on soils involved digging of different parts around the landfill and analyzing the samples for volatile organic compounds, petroleum hydrocarbons, inorganic chemicals, and pesticides. No contaminants were found on the soil that exceeded the soil clear out criteria. To analyze the surface water, four samples were scooped from different areas around the landfill and analyzed for different compounds. No contaminants were above the state or Federal criteria. The few found could not be solely attributed to the landfill. However, they were attributed to the use of infected tanks and indigenous compounds in the region.
Studies on the underground water were also carried out by drilling of borings at different places and depths. Five compounds including chlorobenzene, iron, aluminium, lead, and manganese were found to have exceeded the New Jersey standards of ground water (Ulrich & Wright, 2012). However, the risk levels related to these contaminants were found to be within the specified contact risk levels. Again, the New Jersey levels had been exceeded because of the original compounds and not the contaminants coming from the landfill. There was no relationship between the samples collected from the down gradient, sites below the landfill, and those collected in the up gradient. Therefore, the landfill site was not a noteworthy source of the underground water contamination.
The analysis on the sediments was done by collecting different samples at points next to the exterior water samples. The contaminants’ levels had no difference between those in the down gradient and those in the up gradient. In fact, there was no compound found to have exceeded the set standards in the State and Federal laws. Just like the underground water, no correlation was between the landfill and the contaminants found in the sediments (Ulrich & Wright, 2012). Finally, the samples of air, collected in the areas around the landfill and those at the disposal, were studied. The only contaminant found in the air was methane, which was only found in the areas of disposal. However, the amounts found below the concentrations that could raise any concern and therefore were acceptable by all standards. Methane was found in low levels because the landfill cover was porous and the long period the disposed material had stayed.
Clean Up Activities
Jackson Township was in charge of maintaining the landfill. Activities such as maintaining drainage system, monitoring wells, and clearing of vegetation were carried out. The process of cleaning was done in two ways. First, the government provided other means of supplying water (Ulrich & Wright, 2012). This was done in to provide an alternative for 130 wells, which were already contaminated. The ground water had already infiltrated into the wells. Second, the entire location had to be cleaned up; this acted as a long-term measure. During the entire clean up, the extent and the nature of the soil and ground water contamination was to be ascertained. However, research indicated that the level of pollution of ground water had declined as compared to 1980s (Barton & Zoback, 1991). This means the threats to humans and environment in general was not profound. The site thus needed monitoring for a long time.
Public water supply was fully disconnected from the vicinity of the landfill. Any exposure to the groundwater associated with this landfill was eliminated. Laws were enacted and reviewed in 1999 ensuring that all the special remedy was fully protective. Periodic detection of pollutants in groundwater called for consistence review of the established rules. Further emphasis and review in 2005 ensured that exposure pathways were fully sealed (Parker & Cherry, 1994). This was done to ensure the review was permanent and long-term. Elevated levels of metals and other contaminants spearheaded these protective activities.
Installation of clay as well as asphalt cap was carried out. In addition, methane gas emitters made it possible for recovery and treatment of ground water. Examination of air was also conducted and control measures taken. The process of clean up was comprehensively conducted to ensure humans were fully protected.
Jackson Township Landfills is an important site for waste disposal in New Jersey. However, it causes contamination of groundwater making it harmful to human health. Many people have been affected by infiltrating pollutants. Studies have been carried out to establish the chemical components of the contaminants. Clean up activities were suggested, reviewed, and reinforced to prevent more harm to people. This has been successful and thus making Jackson Township Landfill remarkable and sustainable.
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