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Once collected, the gas is either flared off burned or processed to pipeline quality recovery for domestic energy use at an on—site LFG recovery plant. LFG and its odor are prevented from entering the atmosphere. In addition to this active gas collection and recovery system, an additional safety system is in place to prevent the migration of gas off—site.

Freshkills Park : NYC Parks

Leachate is the liquid by—product of the breakdown of household waste. Once the final cover is placed on the landfill, the quantity of leachate produced diminishes considerably because the amount of water that comes in contact with waste is minimized. The goal of the leachate management system is to remove pollutants by containment, collection and treatment of leachate before it reenters the environment.

All treated water is cleaner than the nearby Arthur Kill. What is a Landfill Cap? The four mounds at Fresh Kills are the result of over 50 years — of landfilling municipal solid waste.

Site History

By , two of the four mounds were closed and covered with a thick, impermeable cap. The remaining mounds stopped accepting waste in Their capping began in and is expected to be complete by The final cover placed over the solid waste is constructed in phases. The essential design goals are hydraulic performance, slope stability and long? These are achieved by minimizing surface water infiltration, preventing erosion, promoting proper surface water drainage, and separating the waste layer from the environment to protect public health.

The final cover also captures and prevents the emission of air—polluting gases. The final cover is made of a series of layers, each with distinct functions, which are described below, from bottom to top:. Before the final cover can be placed, final grading must be completed. A soil barrier layer, sometimes called the cover foundation level or sub—base, is laid over the solid waste, graded and compacted to the appropriate angles.

A gas venting layer is constructed of a geocomposite to facilitate the movement of landfill gas toward the landfill gas vents or extraction wells. The impermeable liner or hydraulic barrier is placed on the sub—base material. This is the most crucial component of final cover. It prevents water from entering the waste, both directly by stopping the flow of water and indirectly by promoting storage or drainage of water in the above layers.

This layer also prevents the upward flow of gas into the atmosphere except in controlled places. The drainage layer is needed in some portions of the final cover. This layer reduces the pressure of water on the barrier layer and increases friction, thus reducing the risk of sliding. It drains the overlying protection layer, increasing water storage capacity and reducing the risk of over—saturating the cover soils above.

The barrier protection layer protects the hydraulic barrier from the extremes of weather that could cause the underlying layers to crack or heave. This layer stores excess water until it is either used by overlying plants or drained off.

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1. Freshkills Park Could’ve Been the Highest Point on the East Coast

This layer is composed of soil and has a minimum thickness of 24 inches, and more where trees are to be planted. The planting soil layer or top soil layer must have a minimum thickness of six inches. It is specified to be fertile. The soil used is a sandy loam, selected for its potential to prevent soil erosion and to provide suitable growing medium for the vegetation layer. The primary objective of the vegetation layer is to protect the integrity of the final cover through erosion control. A network of plant roots hold onto the soil, providing stability. A variety of federal, state and local laws and regulations govern present and future use of the Freshkills Park site.

The overall goals of these regulations are to protect and preserve public health and the environment.

To do so, it is essential that the integrity of the landfill and its systems be maintained. It is anticipated that it will take a minimum of thirty years before gas production and settlement associated with decomposition cease and leachate fully drains from the site.


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As these processes occur, there will be a continuing need for regular maintenance, monitoring and evaluation of the site and systems that have been put into place? It is essential that access to these systems be preserved during this time for inspection, maintenance and repair. Two of the four mounds at Fresh Kills are already capped with a thick, impermeable cover that separates the waste from the environment and the public. The remaining two mounds are in the process of being capped. No area will be open to ongoing public access until it has been tested and found safe for park use.


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The Solid Waste Management regulations address the need to identify and manage current or future potential releases of pollutants or the mitigation of contaminants from a landfill, and to control and mitigate any impacts once landfill operations have ceased. Among the requirements, all of which are met at Fresh Kills, are landfill gas control, leachate collection and treatment, and a post—closure operation and maintenance plan for a minimum 30—year period. The emissions of concern from landfills are non—methane organic compounds NMOC and methane.

New York comes clean: the controversial story of the Fresh Kills dumpsite

The Fresh Kills gas containment and collection system is comprised by the landfill cap and a system of gas collection trenches and header pipes that convey the gas to one or more collection points onsite, either for beneficial use power generation or for flaring under controlled conditions. While most of the gas is recovered for reuse by National Grid, the flare stations are a back—up safety measure in the event that the recovery system is down. In the future, when little or no gas is generated by the site and the active extraction system is no longer cost—effective, the remaining methane will be flared off.

As I draw near, the turkey vultures shift ninety degrees on their perches, right eyes on me, left eyes guarding. I approach, they lean forward, raising their shoulders and lifting their wings off their backs. We all pause. They fold their great feathers up again, like origami scales slipping together on their backs. It is quiet but for the varied frequencies and even, atonal drones of a million insects. I step forward again, they lean, we all pause.

Once more I step, and it is too much. The largest pitches forward, kicks off the post and beats his wings, swooping wide to my right, stretching his imposing wingspan, a width greater than my height. He catches a breeze, and it lifts him up as he pounds the air and withdraws, the other two trailing. Around the bend, I am face to face with a fawn and his father, the mother sunning herself on the ground. The smokestack that was at my left is now at my right, its tip just grazing the horizon of the mound between us, thin lines of its catwalks encircling each segment.

It is the smokestack of the NRG plant, and it serves as my North Star, orienting me from nearly all corners. I dip with the descending gravel ridge; the horizon rises up to claim the tower. When I arrive around the bend, it reappears, more massive, on the other side. As I sit, it pauses, like a predator waiting. Driving, I see the grass whipping against the sky, and the tip of the smokestack moves slowly behind, lurking. Sweat drips from under my left eye and onto my chin. The nape of my neck steams. The long grass off the path bends and tangles closer to the ground. Pockets of puddles amidst the rusty mud sink into my shoes, staining my socks auburn.

I take a little bit of park home with me each day. At the apex, I sit in the gravel. Around me, crushed into the rock, are a happenstance constellation of glass chips, their edges buffed with time and tumbling. I pick out enough glass to form an assemblage of colors: emerald, peridot, citrine, smoky quartz, and cloudy diamonds. As a child, I used to sit in the sand not far from here, collecting sea-glass. Downhill, off the landfill cap, are the stockpiles of sand that will become a new foundation of soil to sustain the plants, animals, and activities of the park.

Beyond that, I see the little finger of Schmul Park, which is already open, reach into the surrounding neighborhood.