Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Landfill heating up -- does the OEPA have a plan?

I couldn't find a public domain image of a landfill burning underground, so we will have to use the accompanying photo as metaphor. Plastic is not just everywhere you look, it also lies buried under ground in huge toxic and potentially disasterous quantities.

According to an article in Wednesday's ABJ, infrared photographs show a landfill just south of here heating up underground. Bob Downing does a great job laying it all out.

What are the dangers from the fire? How about

"An underground fire would create a dangerous mixture of gases threatening landfill workers and neighbors. Burning plastics could create dioxins -- a known cancer-causing agent and the key ingredient in Agent Orange -- and furans, a possible human carcinogen. Burning auto fluff -- from shredded dashboards and seats -- could produce deadly chlorine gas.

High levels of benzene, a cancer-causing chemical, have been found in the landfill's gas-collection system."

Just think about all the stuff you throw away in your trash. Did you ever toss in a few double A batteries, thinking -- oh they are small, can't be too toxic. When those new energy-saving fluorescent bulbs finally burn out after 7 years, don't throw them in your trash either. Batteries and fluorescents are hazardous waste and need to go to places other than a landfill. Are human beings capable of mindful consumption or are we doomed because convenience will always win over sustainable living?

How do we get humans to live simply and create less waste? Will it take one or more exploding landfill fires contaminating air and water to make us all wake up?

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