Solid and Hazardous Waste Management: An Introduction

  • Sudha GoelEmail author


Solid waste management is now acknowledged as one of the major environmental issues of our times. It remains a challenge for developed countries and is an exponentially growing problem for developing countries. The last four decades are marked by several incidents highlighting problems with solid and hazardous waste management across the world.
  1. 1.

    Trans-boundary shipments of hazardous and solid waste have received world-wide attention and media headlines. Infamous examples include Khian Sea which started its journey from Philadelphia in 1986 and Mobro which started its journey from New York in 1987; two US barges or ships with cargoes of municipal solid waste that went from one country to another looking for a port to dump their wastes. The Mobro went all the way to Belize and brought its cargo back to Brooklyn, New York for incineration and landfilling. Many speculate that Khian Sea dumped its cargo somewhere in the Indian Ocean in 1988.

  2. 2.

    Most recently, a fire started on 27 January 2016 in India’s oldest and largest open dumping site, Deonar in Mumbai, and was visible in satellite images (shown in Fig. 1.1). It continued for several days leading to complaints of air pollution and closure of schools for 2 days. The massive fire was attributed to the buildup of methane gas in the open dump where the waste had reached heights of more than 30 m. Fires in this dumping site have been recurrent making living conditions in the surrounding areas extremely difficult.

  3. 3.

    Many sources have identified poor solid waste management as one of the major contributing factors to the spread of plague in Surat, India in 1994. Incidents like these led to promulgation of the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules in India in 2000.

  4. 4.

    Several industrial sites all around the world remain unusable or a toxic nuisance for their neighbours due to improper handling and management of hazardous wastes on-site. One of the earliest and most cited examples in the USA includes Love Canal, Niagara Falls, New York, where toxic waste was dumped through the 1920s and got national attention only in 1976–1978. The Superfund program (under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act, RCRA for ensuring proper disposal of solid and hazardous waste) was initiated in 1980 in the USA and was the government’s response for remediating and rehabilitating such contaminated industrial sites.



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Copyright information

© Capital Publishing Company, New Delhi, India 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Civil Engineering DepartmentIndian Institute of Technology KharagpurKharagpurIndia

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