Landfills have a suprising number of layers underneath them when they are built properly. One of those layers is often concrete or gravel. The various layers under a landfill help to keep groundwater from becoming contaminated and for rain to properly run off and around the trash. Typically, the layer of gravel or concrete will also have a drainage system built in to move potentially contaminated water away from ground water. This chart helps to explain a landfill:
Modern landfill bottoms (or liners) are not made of concrete. The liner is formed using clay, plastic (or synthetic materials), or a combination of these. Each have individual drawbacks. Clay liners can crack, and can be permeated by certain organic chemicals such as benzine in five years through a process called diffusion. Synthetic liners are made of high density polyethylene, which can develop stress cracks from household chemicals like moth balls, vinegar, margerine, and peppermint oil. Prevention of groundwater leaching requires constant monitoring.
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