Every controlled MSW landfill is a potential source for the contamination of air, soil and water.

The main carriers of such contaminations are leachate and biogas, produced by the interaction with seepage water and by the processes of waste degradation. In case of ineffective containing systems, leachate can get in contact with natural systems and thereby be dispersed into existing aquifers.

Biogas (besides its usual constituents,CO2 and CH4) is often characterized by a series of trace components whose toxicity and bad odor play a major role in assessingthe environmental impact of a landfill and associated risks. 

In the case of leachate, an effective sealing, drainage and collection system can prevent the occurrence of leakage. Whereas, in the case of gas emissions, the presence of collection systems doesn’t preclude leakages from the landfill cover, whether temporary or permanent.

Other sources of pollution besides leachate and biogas include emissions due to biogas combustion/cogeneration plants, biofilters and the movement of heavy vehicles.

The impact of a landifill affects different matrices such as water, air and soil, therefore it is necessary to set up an adequate monitoring, aimed at identifying the possible sources of contamination.

The 1999/31/ECdirective  establishes the operational and technical requirements for the management of MSW landfills, suggesting procedures and methodologies to reduce their environmental impact.

In the monitoring of environmental matrices we adhere to art. 8 that includes a Surveillance and Control Plan (SCP) in which all parameters, monitoring frequency and methodology must be described in detail. Art. 8 further describes all the environmental parameters to be monitored: 

  • Underground water
  • Leachate
  • Shallow water drainage
  • Landfill gases
  • Quality of air
  • Weather Climate Parameters
  • State of the landfill body

In order to optimize MSW landfill management and satisfy the requirements of all governing bodies, it is fundamental to adopt efficient protocols, providing the necessary guidelines to carry out all environmental analyses and to assess the thresholds of the various contaminants.

Such protocols include standard procedures for sampling, analysing and processing the chemical-physical parameters, aimed at characterizing MSW landfills activity and their environmental impact. This is a crucial step for the protection of the environment and for a proper management of a landfill.

For this purpose it is imperative to:

  • Recognize and quantify the diffused emissionsof the main greenhouse gases, such as CO2 and CH4, from the landfill soil
  • Assess the quality of air inside the landfill site and in the nearby areas (sensitive receptors)
  • Determine leachate contamination in deep and shallow waters

West Systems proposes a methodology which integrates the use of specific instruments, able to detect low concentrations of contaminants and to assess the outflows from the landfill cover, with advanced statistical techniques for the processing of all collected environmental data.

The company has over twentyfive years of experience in the design and implementation of specific equipment and a solid technical and scientific knowledge, developed through the collaboration with Research Institutions and Universities.

West Systems proposes specific protocols for the monitoring of gas emissions from MSW landfills, special waste disposals and composting plants.The impact of biogas and leachate on the environment can be assessed by innovative techniques and methodologies, consistent with current legislation.


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