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The 14-year Performance of a Compacted Clay Liner used as Part of a Composite Liner System for a Leachate Lagoon


The migration of contaminants through a 2.9 m thick compacted clay liner (CCL) for a landfill leachate lagoon is examined 14 years after construction. The clay liner formed the lower portion of the composite liner system but the geomembrane (GM) was found to have defects that had allowed leachate to migrate between the GM and CCL. Chloride, sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium pore water profiles through the CCL are examined. It is shown that chloride migrated approximately 1.7 m into the CCL during the 14 years of the lagoon operation, sodium approximately 1.2 m, and potassium 0.7 m. Diffusion and sorption data from laboratory diffusion testing are utilized in combination with a finite layer contaminant transport model to predict field contaminant migration profiles through the composite liner system and to establish the time of ‘failure’ of the geomembrane at sometime between 0 and 6 years after installation. Relatively high sorptive uptake of potassium by the CCL soil is observed from batch testing and diffusion testing with field data suggesting an even larger amount of sorption. It is hypothesized that organic sludge matter at the base of the lagoon is responsible for potassium uptake from the leachate. This field case highlights the importance of the compacted clay liner as part of the composite liner system in acting as a diffusion barrier during the lifetime of the lagoon as well as using relatively non-conservative contaminants such as chloride and sodium to estimate geomembrane ‘failure’ times

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Correspondence to Craig B. Lake.

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Lake, C.B., Rowe, R.K. The 14-year Performance of a Compacted Clay Liner used as Part of a Composite Liner System for a Leachate Lagoon. Geotech Geol Eng 23, 657–678 (2005).

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