Field Trip to a Sanitary Landfill

            The landfill that we will  visit is located about 5 miles north of Abilene. It is owned  by Browning Ferris Industries (BFI) which is a very large corporation. The city of Abilene  pays them to dispose of our garbage at the landfill. The history of this corporation can be seen at   Handbook of Texas Online: BROWNING-FERRIS INDUSTRIES .

            At the landfill we will observe how the garbage is dumped, compressed and buried. Key concerns at this disposal site are:
1. Covering the trash at the end of each day. This is done, in part to keep pests out of the trash.
2. Groundwater contamination. This is prevented by using an artificial liner under the landfill and also by having a relatively impermeable earth material under the site. What is the rock material under this landfill?
3. Methane gas. This is generated as organic waste decomposes and it can cause a dangerous explosion.  BFI collects these gases. What do they do with them after they are collected?

            There are some questions that you should get the answers to for this site:
1. How much garbage is received on average at this site every day.
2. How many people in local communities are served by this site.
3. What is the projected life of this landfill?
            The people at the landfill can answer these questions.
            Some landfills in certain communities  are already filled up or close to it. What are some alternative ways for them to manage their trash. These were discussed in the video "Down in the Dumps".

To return to the Geosciences Homepage - click here