It is something that starts a conversation, can affect your mood, impacts your commute to work, and tells you how to dress. It is also something that directly affects the day-to-day operations of a landfill. I am talking about — the weather!
March 23 is World Meteorological Day and the theme this year is “watching the weather to protect life and property.” Weather is one of the only things on this earth that we cannot change, we all have to adapt to it.
There are a number of things that the Halton Waste Management Site does to successfully operate the landfill with the ever-changing weather.
Did you know? The Halton Waste Management Site has a permanent weather station, which records information including wind direction, velocity, rainfall, temperature and barometric pressure. The wind data is used for litter control and odour complaint investigation. The rain data is used for water balance calculation to estimate leachate generation and to maximize the efficiency of our leachate collection system.
Collecting weather data is an important component of landfill operations. The Site has many procedures in place to reduce odour, control litter, and continue to operate successfully. If our neighbours don’t know that we are a landfill — it means we are doing our job well!
The weather station collects data every minute, and averages it over 15 minute intervals. To ensure the data is accurate, the weather station is lowered and calibrated every month. This involves testing all of the equipment, and cleaning out the tipping bucket (birds just love to sit on it)!
Just like the theme for this year’s World Meteorological Day, the Halton Waste Management Site goes to great lengths to ensure that residents are not affected by Site operations. To limit the impact on the surrounding community, the operators use the weather station data to minimize the potential for litter, dust, and odours.
One of the number one items you find when a collection truck is dumping garbage is plastic bags. With a big gust of wind, plastic bags can blow all across the Site, and can even enter into our neighbours’ yards. To prevent this from happening, we use over 40 portable litter fences!
The portable litter fence units provide the first line of defence at the tipping face. The fence units (approximately 4 metres tall and 11.5 metres long) can be towed easily by pickup trucks or a front-end loader. It takes less than 45 minutes to line up 10 portable fence units, totalling 91m (298 feet).
Vicinity patrols are performed daily, where crews patrol the immediate vicinity of the Site and pick up any windblown litter or illegally dumped materials. The Site also abides by strict complaint procedures, which requires staff to immediately investigate any customer or neighbour complaints. We receive very few complaints from our neighbours about the Site. In fact, we had none in 2012!
If we get an odour complaint, we use the weather station and retrieve the historical data from the date and time of the odour complaint. We then use the wind direction and speed to determine if the odour came from our site, or elsewhere.
If we know the wind is strong and blowing in the direction of the Container Station, we can shut down operations at the Yard Waste Composting Pad, to ensure that no debris from yard waste chipping makes its way to the residents.
When the weather is particular dry, we use a water flusher truck to wet areas prone to dusty conditions. The Site has 4km of on-site roads, which have been paved to help control mud tracking. Water collected in the on-site water ponds is used.
In the twenty years the Halton Waste Management Site has been open, we have only had to close down the Site twice because of inclement weather. If you have proper procedures in place, and a great staff that share the vision of protecting people and property, weather is simply a manageable twist to normal operations.
How does the weather affect your job?