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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Treatment of a municipal landfill leachate Lee, Ching Jiang


One of the problems associated with the disposal of solid wastes in landfills, particularly in high precipitation areas, is the pollution caused by the production of the often highly contaminated leachate. This study was initiated to investigate the treatability of a low-strength municipal landfill leachate using aerobic digestion followed by activated carbon polishing, so that the most cost effective treatment system could be determined. Sludge desorption and leachate toxicity assessment were also included in the study. The aerated lagoon process alone was very effective in treating the leachate to a quality that is nearly acceptable for discharge to a receiving water. Only SO₄ and Fe in the settled effluent significantly exceeded the local requlatory standards for specific discharges. Carbon adsorption greatly improved the settled effluent quality in terms of color, Fe and COD. However, the addition of this polishing process for combined treatment may not be cost effective. For an influent COD of 1,600 mg/1 and with MLVSS concentrations ranging between 360 and 560 mg/1, the settled effluent COD removal increased from 82.6% to as high as 90.1% when 9C was increased from 2 to 10 days. For the corresponding influent BOD5 of about 1,000 mg/1 and with θ[sub c] greater than 3 days, the BOD5 removal efficiencies averaged 99.1% and the settled effluent BOD5's were no greater than 10 mg/1. This indicates that the raw leachate can be almost completely biodegraded by aerobic digestion. The metal removal efficiency in aerobic treatment was greater than 95% for Fe and Mn, better than 90% for Zn and Pb, and about 80% for Al. Metals expected to be mainly or significantly removed by chemical precipitation due to pH change during treatment included Ca, Fe, Mn, Zn and Pb. Analysis of the kinetic parameters associated with the biological treatment indicated that the concentrations of pollutants, such as heavy metals, in the leachate were not great enough to cause significant inhibition of biological growth. It also showed that this leachate could very likely be added to a domestic sewage, in a high percentage, for aerobic treatment without producing adverse effects. From a treatment efficiency point of view, the optimum solids detention time was found to be 7 to 10 days for leachate BOD₅ ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 mg/1. However, since the predicted θ[sub c] for failure was 0.42 day at 22°C for a 1,000 mg/1 BOD₅ leachate, a θ[sub c] of 2 to 4 days seems possible in the field. On the other hand, the effects of winter temperature on BOD₅ removal and sludge settleability, as well as many other unknown factors on the overall biological treatment efficiency must be considered. It was, therefore, felt that a solids detention time of 5 days or more would be the more realistic approach for a full-scale treatment system, despite the fact that an economic analysis favored a shorter θ[sub c].

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