Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 2566–2575 | Cite as

Contaminant transport in the sub-surface soil of an uncontrolled landfill site in China: site investigation and two-dimensional numerical analysis

  • Haijian Xie
  • Yunmin ChenEmail author
  • Hywel R. Thomas
  • Majid Sedighi
  • Shakil A. Masum
  • Qihua Ran
Research Article


A field investigation of contaminant transport beneath and around an uncontrolled landfill site in Huainan in China is presented in this paper. The research aimed at studying the migration of some chemicals present in the landfill leachate into the surrounding clayey soils after 17 years of landfill operation. The concentrations of chloride and sodium ions in the pore water of soil samples collected at depths up to 15 m were obtained through an extensive site investigation. The contents of organic matter in the soil samples were also determined. A two-dimensional numerical study of the reactive transport of sodium and chloride ion in the soil strata beneath and outside the landfill is also presented. The numerical modelling approach adopted is based on finite element/finite difference techniques. The domain size of approximately 300 × 30 m has been analysed and major chemical transport parameters/mechanisms are established via a series of calibration exercises. Numerical simulations were then performed to predict the long-term behaviour of the landfill in relation to the chemicals studied. The lateral migration distance of the chloride ions was more than 40 m which indicates that the advection and mechanical dispersion are the dominant mechanism controlling the contaminant transport at this site. The results obtained from the analysis of chloride and sodium migration also indicated a non-uniform advective flow regime of ions with depth, which were localised in the first few metres of the soil beneath the disposal site. The results of long-term simulations of contaminant transport indicated that the concentrations of ions can be 10 to 30 times larger than that related to the allowable limit of concentration values. The results of this study may be of application and interest in the assessment of potential groundwater and soil contamination at this site with a late Pleistocene clayey soil. The obtained transport properties of the soils and the contaminant transport mechanisms can also be used for the design of engineered barriers for the control of the long-term pollution of the site.


Uncontrolled landfill Contaminant transport Groundwater pollution Clayey soil Field investigation Two-dimensional numerical analysis 



Financial supports received by the authors based at Zhejiang University in China form the National Basic Research Program of China (973 program, grant no. 2012CB719806), National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 51478427, 51008274 and 51278452), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (grant no. 2014QNA4019), Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation (grant no. LY13D060003) and Zhejiang Provincial Public Industry Research Projects (grant no. 2015C31005) are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haijian Xie
    • 1
  • Yunmin Chen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hywel R. Thomas
    • 2
  • Majid Sedighi
    • 2
    • 3
  • Shakil A. Masum
    • 2
  • Qihua Ran
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Civil Engineering and ArchitectureZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Geoenvironmental Research Centre, School of EngineeringCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  3. 3.School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, Faculty of EngineeringThe University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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