Averda’s Vlakfontein Class A hazardous waste landfill is the first of its kind to be built in Vereeniging, Gauteng. This hazardous waste landfill has been built to conform to the highest international and local standards.
Vlakfontein, a leading hazardous waste landfill, is located on an old brick-making quarry. “During our environmental impact assessment, we looked at a range of things for the particular sites we were considering and this one came out tops in terms of the composition of the site itself,” says Averda national landfill manager Reg Gerber.
“Because it was previously a brick-making quarry for many years, the whole area is actually underlaid by significant layers of clay, which is what makes it ideal for a landfill site,” he explains. The clay acts as a natural barrier that contains hazardous materials within the site and prevents them from spreading into the environment.
Vlakfontein has a layered barrier for environmental protection
Vlakfontein is positioned on top of a combination of layered materials that prevents soil contamination and seepage of hazardous waste materials. “Probably the most important part of this landfill site is the design of liners but because you can’t see it, its importance is hard to fully appreciate,” says Gerber.
Besides the natural barriers, the Class A landfill is also surrounded by 1.2 metres of geotextiles, compacted clay, high-density polyethylene and gravel. This liner system is ideal for the collection and drainage of leachate off the liner and for leakage detection and collection of waste materials, according to Averda technical manager, Neville Chetty.
“Through the set-up of these layers and the choice of materials, we have made every effort to ensure that the waste and the leachate produced in our landfill will not come into contact with the environment,” says Chetty.
Averda strictly controls and monitors the site
Averda closely monitors the site and the potential odours that can be emitted from Vlakfontein. Air-quality monitors and high-tech gas probes are situated around the site. Dust monitoring technology is also used.
“In the event of a complaint, we have real-time data available to ascertain the nature of the complaint so that operational adjustments can be immediately undertaken,” explains Chetty. Other strict controls are set up that allows Averda to monitor the hazardous waste at the facility.
“We have a delay period for hazardous waste streams, and waste generators or waste management companies would need to give us anything from 24 to 72 hours notification or forewarning if they wanted to drop waste off at Vlakfontein,” says Gerber. This pre-notification allows Vlakfontein staff to plan for the load and complete the relevant paperwork.
Documents such as toxicity sheets need to be filled out that will determine the nature of the hazardous material being delivered to the landfill. Averda will determine how the waste was generated and what chemicals are likely to be found in the waste.
Samples taken to confirm composition of hazardous waste
“We will also take a sample and send it for analysis. Once the results come back, we know what we’ve got to do with it because we’ve got to treat it in a certain way. Different types of hazardous waste require different treatments for them to be disposed of correctly, which is why we insist on notification ahead of time,” explains Gerber.
“Our on-site laboratory is capable of handling most waste acceptance confirmatory procedures, but we do use accredited external laboratories for the waste classification analysis, as the independence of the results is an important aspect,” he says.
If the on-site laboratory detects any discrepancies between the analysis and the stated composition of the waste, the waste carrier will be turned away from the site.
Averda proud of relationship with community
Averda has built respectable relationships with the surrounding communities. “We have been engaging with the local community from the very beginning of the Vlakfontein site journey. Today, we have a constructive and positive working relationship, whereby issues or concerns raised by the community are addressed immediately,” states Chetty.
The neighbouring community was recently invited onto the landfill to observe how it operates and to see the technology and controls that are currently in place. This provides assurance of the community’s safety and a unique insight into the process of containing hazardous waste and protecting the environment.
In the next five years, Averda aims to construct two more waste cells at Vlakfontein, as well as a liquid hazardous waste plant that will be able to process a variety of effluent, leachate and dangerous liquid chemicals.
Averda is a leading waste management provider with over 50 years of experience across three continents. Through growth, transformation and engagement, we strive to find new ways of managing waste while protecting the community and environment.
By pairing international expertise with local insights, we have secured our position as one of South Africa’s most respected providers of waste management and industrial cleaning services. We also operate in the recycling, pipe inspection, CCTV, infrastructure inspection, hydro-demolition, high-pressure water jetting and catalyst handling industries.
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