African Journal of
Environmental Science and Technology

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Environ. Sci. Technol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0786
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJEST
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 1064

Full Length Research Paper

The environmental impact of landfill fires and their contaminant plumes at the Chunga landfill site, Lusaka, Zambia

Muleya Milimo
  • Muleya Milimo
  • Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Zambia.
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Hinchliffe Graham
  • Hinchliffe Graham
  • Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, School of Science, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), New Zealand.
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Petterson Michael
  • Petterson Michael
  • Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, School of Science, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), New Zealand.
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  •  Received: 16 March 2021
  •  Accepted: 06 December 2021
  •  Published: 31 December 2021

Abstract

The management of solid waste is recognised as a challenging activity with respect to the environment, particularly within rapidly growing urban centres in Lower Income Countries. This paper examines the issue of landfill-waste-generated fires and resultant pollution plumes sourced within the Chunga Landfill Site, Lusaka, Zambia. The authors present the results of a geospatial analysis research programme to map and assess risks posed by landfill combustion. The project identified fires and their plumes in the period 2013 to 2019. Pollution plumes are predominantly oriented East to West but also form plumes blowing towards the South West and North West. The area impacted by landfill plumes increased from 34 ha in 2013 to 133 ha in 2019. There is significant existential and potential human-exposure to these plumes. An estimated 5000 residents live within the areas affected by landfill-combustion-plumes. The authors suggest the following framework for landfill management to be adopted: (1) for waste to be increasingly sorted and segregated with different disposal options developed for different types of waste; (2) for methane and gas evacuation pipes to be inserted into the Chunga Site in a systematic rectilinear manner which allows for its safe dispersal: alternately collect the gases as usable biogas; (3) rapid extinguishing of any fires; (4) weekly monitoring of the landfill site by UAV and on-the- ground inspections; (5) active weekly monitoring of air quality; (6) develop a communication strategy that aims to engage local residents and other stakeholders concerning Chunga Landfill waste management; (7) the further drafting of medium-long term waste management policy in Lusaka that takes account of the rapid population growth and increasing landfill requirements.

 

Key words: Landfill fires, smoke plume, photogrammetry, geospatial mapping, disaster, risk management.