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Date Published: 05/18/10

A Case for Landfill in Imo State By George Njoku and Acho Orabuchi 

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“We generate our own environment. We get exactly what we deserve. How can we resent a life we've created ourselves? Who's to blame, who's to credit but us? Who can change it, anytime we wish, but us?” –Richard Bach (American Writer, author of 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull', b.1936) 

"We won't have a society if we destroy the environment." –Margaret Mead 

Interestingly, the above quotes not only capture the essence and the urgency of a sound environmental policy in every state, but validate the petulant of the masses that desire a clean environment. Undeniably, most aspects of our lives are linked with our environment. The quality of our lives depends largely on the air we breathe, the safety of our food and drinking water, the land we live and work on, and the manner in which we spend our recreational time outdoors. In a nutshell, a society’s quality of life hinges on the condition of the environment. A healthy society operates in a healthy environment. Our primary objective for this story is the successful and safe management of municipal solid waste in Imo state that will encourage job creation and safe environment. The citizens of Imo state deserves and demands a clean environment. When it comes to municipal solid waste, landfill is the only permanent solution to the problem. 

Without a doubt, the development and implementation of a sound environmental policy to protect Imo State’s human and natural resources consistent with sustainable economic development is very important to all Imo State citizens. That is why the Environmental Protection Agency in Imo State must have the goal of clean air, clean water, and the safe management of waste as part of their environmental responsibilities. It must be emphasized, however, that any financial resources dedicated to environmental issues should not be looked at as an expense but rather as an investment in the health, safety, and welfare of Imo citizens. Inasmuch as Gov Ohakim administration is already embarking on meaningful environmental projects, we are simply offering supplemental suggestions here that would benefit Imo State and other states in the federation. As a result, we commence with a definition of waste.

WASTE

Basically, a waste is any product that is no longer needed or that can no longer be used for its intended purpose. An unused product being stored for use at some later date is not a waste unless it is stored past its shelf life or is spilled. Depending on its effect, waste may be classified as hazardous or non-hazardous.

SOLID WASTE

Capaciously, solid waste includes garbage, refuse, sludge from waste treatment plants, water supply treatment plants, or pollution control facilities. Non-hazardous industrial wastes are also solid wastes. Included in solid waste also are other discarded materials, including solid, semisolid, liquid, or contained gaseous materials resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, agricultural, and community activities.

MUNICPAL SOLID WASTE

Similarly, municipal solid waste is a subset of solid waste and is defined as solid waste resulting from or incidental to municipal, community, commercial, institutional, and recreational activities, including garbage, rubbish, ashes, street cleanings, dead animals, abandoned automobiles, and all other solid waste other than industrial solid waste.                                                      

Our piece here will focus exclusively on municipal solid waste management. The municipal solid waste of interest here includes durable goods (e.g., appliances, tires, and batteries), nondurable goods (e.g., newspapers, books, and magazines), containers and packaging, food wastes, yard trimmings, and miscellaneous organic wastes from residential and commercial sources.

MUNICPAL SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT

The fact that Imo State is home to abundant human and natural resources has proved to be a blessing and a responsibility. The abundant natural resources makes Imo State a desirable place to live and work especially in its major cities of Owerri, Orlu, and Okigwe. This phenomenon has prompted tremendous growth in Imo State. And with such growth comes a host of waste disposal and management issues that must be addressed to protect the public health and the environment. Waste that is mismanaged can enter the ecosystem, potentially damaging the quality of air and water. The harmful effects can affect human health, as well as the health of plants and animals and may affect both animal and plant reproductive success. 

The increase in urban population means more residential and commercial development will abound, which inevitably results in more municipal solid waste generation. Therefore, the state needs to address the increasing volume of municipal solid waste that is generated on a daily basis. Imo and other states need sufficient and dequate technical support to develop a sound system to manage municipal solid waste safely, effectively and efficiently. To achieve this goal, we recommend using an integrated municipal solid waste management system that would utilize local resources and technology to meet the states’ needs. This integrated system has four components which we will discuss in the next phase of this project.  The goal of this approach is to use a combination of all these methods and local situations to safely and effectively manage municipal solid waste in a landfill.  

LANDFILL

Technically, a municipal solid waste landfill is defined as a discrete area of land or excavation that receives household waste. In fact, landfill of solid waste remains the most widely used waste management method in developed countries. Though landfill is extensively used, there are potential risks to human health and the environment and aesthetic associated with having a landfill in close proximity to residential areas. To reduce risk to health and the environment, minimum criteria must be developed in order to alleviate some of the concerns raised over landfill sitting and health concerns. The design criteria for landfill location and development including operations, budgets and regulatory guidelines will be presented in the next phase of our article. 

We have examined municipal solid waste problem in Imo state thoroughly and understands the scope of services required. Throughout this piece, we will demonstrate clear understanding of wastes particularly municipal solid waste and the need for a permanent solution to the problem (landfill).  

Landfill construction as part of municipal solid waste management represents an engine of sustained economic development and employment opportunities while preserving the environment. A typical landfill of moderate to large size has the potential of employing 500 people directly and an additional 200 people indirectly. A typical landfill is capable of generating landfill gas, which is a reliable and renewable energy source. The landfill gas generated can be used in-situ to operate the landfill or sold in open market as a revenue source. Our primary objective for this piece is the successful and safe management of municipal solid waste in Imo state that will encourage job creation and safe environment. We will provide the state with extensive solid waste management, landfill design, remediation and monitoring in the next phase of this story.  

Dr. George U. Njoku, Ph.D., PG, CES is an Environmental Specialist in Dallas, Texas USA  

Dr. Acho Orabuchi, Ph.D. is an Opinion Writer and Adjunct Professor in Dallas, Texas USA

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