Modern Landfills

Waste management companies and some commentators, however, maintain that the threat to health and the environment from modern landfills is negligible. The goal of modern landfills, they point out, is to create a dry tomb that cannot be permeated by water, in order to mummify the garbage and sequester it in the earth. And in modern landfills, methane gas is typically collected, piped to the top of the landfill, and then either flared—that is, burned off—or used as fuel to create energy. This system, industry experts argue, prevents most of the pollution once caused by dumping and decreases the amounts of carbon and methane that otherwise could be released into the atmosphere. As the National Solid Wastes Management Association explains, "The engineered systems in a modern landfill ensure protection of human health and the environment by containing leachate that can contaminate groundwater, preventing the infiltration of precipitation that generates leachate after closure of the landfill, and collecting landfill gas that can be used as an energy source or destroyed."10

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