Assessment is a critical facet of all waste management operations. Landfills pose a particular risk to the areas in which they have been situated. Improperly maintained, the refuse, chemicals and other hazardous materials which make their home in that expanse could leach into the ground and potentially contaminate local groundwater and basins. Particularly in the balmy south and the dryer west, where that water is all the more precious for its scarcity, such a situation could prove particularly disastrous. In that regard, the very real environmental problems this poses also become equally real human problems, because contaminated groundwater affects everyone and everything that depend on it.
The most obvious method of controlling such assessments is through the act of permitting. Landfills require permits for their operation, as well as the monitoring of their closure. Likewise, groundwater discharge monitoring involves its own set of permits. These are just a few of the sorts of environmental-impacting efforts that require such paperwork, and it genuinely might seem like something of a bureaucratic nightmare, but it serves its purpose. With permitting comes a paper trail and with a paper trail comes accountability. When accountability crumbles, so do the communities that depend on it.
Landfills, after all, fall under the jurisdiction of Hazardous Materials Evaluation. How would you feel if you sought to build a school on a piece of property, only to discover that bit of land had once been a landfill? Gases and other contaminants build up in soil like that, and the contaminants could prove problematic long after their producer has been officially removed. Proper assessment delineates sites (like landfills) that might be potentially hazardous or unsuitable due to past, as well as current use.
It’s due to this designation that compliance monitoring is of likewise importance. Not only does it potentially save lives, it also saves a lot of headaches economically and legally, both in the present and the future. It is evidence for companies to point to at any time as proof of their commitment to proper practices, and guarantees they are going to be among the first to know of any particular dangers occurring on their grounds. In all regards, it decreases their liability if something does go wrong, and increases the transparency of their corporate image.
Assessment is the before; compliance monitoring is the during. They are two sides of the same coin, designed to help the government maintain its records, companies to maintain an aura of accountability and safe practices within the community that supports them, and a shield for those that seek to call this land home.