Crumbling coastline threatens landfill spills

Coastal rubbish tips that long since covered over and abandoned could cause a fresh headache as erosion threatens to open them up and wash the waste into the sea.

Predicted impacts of climate change resulting in changing weather patterns and sea level rise put an ever-increasing pressure on the UK coastline to support flood and erosion management.

This possible increased level of coastal erosion places risk of wash-out of potential hazardous waste from former industrial and domestic landfill sites situated along the coastline in the UK.

Research and information broker CIRIA is now planning to develop guidance for those responsible for managing these time-bombs.

“Completed landfill sites may have had very little monitoring undertaken to assess the potential for pollution incidents, so very little may be known about their likely risk to the environment or human health,” said a statement from CIRIA.

“Identifying the most important closed landfill sites can be particularly difficult due to limited data available on waste types and quantities deposited and also the type and extent of environmental monitoring already undertaken.

“It is more than likely that upon further investigations additional landfill sites posing a risk to the maritime environment and human health due to erosion will be identified.

“Also, considering the preparation of a second round of Shoreline Management Plans in progress in England and Wales a number of new sites may emerge as potential problem areas, especially in the medium to longer term.”

It guidance plans to look at engineering solutions, the potential environmental impacts and how legislation will shape the response of those tasks with dealing with the problem.

Sam Bond

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