Distinguished University Professor Morton Barlaz was recently interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday as part of a story on California government agencies crossing state lines to dispose of waste in landfills in neighboring states such as Utah and Arizona. The waste is classified as hazardous in California but not in the adjoining states.
There are concerns from some citizens that the waste could contaminate local groundwater, but Barlaz said that modern landfills are well-designed.
“What you might put in the landfill is not the question. It’s what might come out,” Barlaz said. “The concept of ‘We’re going to put highly contaminated soil in a landfill, and whatever’s in it is going to leach out,’ — that’s just not what happens.”
Barlaz has been involved in research on various aspects of solid waste since 1983. Over this time, he has conducted research on biological refuse decomposition, methane production, and the biodegradation of hazardous wastes in landfills. He has participated in two state-of-the-practice reviews of bioreactor landfills. His research forms the basis for much of the work done to assess the impact of landfills on methane emissions inventories. Barlaz is also recognized for his research on the use of life-cycle analysis to evaluate environmental emissions associated with alternate solid waste management strategies. Most recently, he has been working on the processes that contribute to heat accumulation in landfills.
Listen to the full NPR story here.