Health

According to several “government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private citizens who commented,” on the Campo landfill project were concerned about the impacts of “litter, noise, traffic congestion, and air pollution that the project.”[1] However, the much larger issue that unified these groups was the potential for groundwater contamination.[2] As the landfill was proposed to be located “above an aquifer that is the ‘sole source’ of drinking water in the vicinity,” it caused much concern around the neighbors and environmental justice community.[3] Majority of the “people in the four-hundred-square-mile area draw almost all of their drinking water from domestic wells tapping into the aquifer.”[4] Due to the lack of “economically feasible alternative sources of drinking water,” the landfill’s risk of contaminating that aquifer would result in a lack of a viable water source for the community, thus risking potential negative impacts on the health of the community overall.[5]

Additionally, the concerns of leachate, or garbage juices, formation and contamination of water became one of the most prominent concerns of those opposed to the landfill development.  This risk occurs as “rainwater seeping through the garbage may contaminate the groundwater underneath the dump, with a poisonous plume of contaminated leachate possibly spreading well beyond the boundaries of the facility.”[6] Leachate is dangerous to human health because “the waste through which it percolates is laced with toxic substances.”[7] Even though federal regulations ban hazardous waste from being disposed in most landfills, there are no regulations on the disposal of common household cleaning and maintenance products commonly containing toxic substances once discarded.[8]

This has an impact on the health of humans who drink the contaminated water. Leachate is “so highly concentrated that small amounts of leachate can pollute large amounts of groundwater rendering it unsuitable for use for domestic water supply.”[9] Leachate contains “potential carcinogens, highly toxic chemicals, and a variety of conventional pollutants.”[10] All of these factors contribute to the undesirability of leachate-contaminated groundwater, as it is usually associated with “undesirable tastes and odors,” as well as “reduced service life of appliances.”[11] Additionally, 95% of organics in leachate are considered “non-conventional” and their exact impact on public health today are still unknown.[12] It is also significant to note that it is impossible to “eliminate hazardous and otherwise deleterious chemicals from the municipal solid waste stream.”[13] Due to these facts, leachate contaminated ground water has to be taken seriously with regard to its effects on human health.

 


 

[1] McGovern, Dan, “The Battle Over The Environmental Impact Statement In The Camp Indian Landfill War,” West-Northwest, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Sept. 1995): 152.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 153.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] G. Fred Lee, “Impact of Municipal and Industrial Non-Hazardous Waste Landfills on Public Health and the Environment: An Overview,” California Environmental Protextion Agency’s Comparative Risk Project, (1994): 1.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid,19.