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article imageLargest open-air dump on the planet closes

By Gar Swaffar     Jun 2, 2012 in Environment
Rio De Janeiro - The largest open-air landfill on the planet had been nestled into a marshland fronting Guanabara Bay near Rio De Janeiro. The environment suffered. CO2 levels to drop.
Urban planning took no time whatsoever when the Jardim Gramacho landfill was planned, outside of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, literally none.
The open-air dump has been described as the largest open-air dump on the planet, and for good reason. It began being used as a dump site, with none of the safeguards normally put into place for a dump site, on a marshland area by Guanabara Bay. No lining of the base strata to contain leakage, no oversight by authorities, and no covering over the garbage from the previous day or previous months or years.
Eventually, as reported at MSNBC, the dump began leaking leachates into the soil and eventually turning up in the bay. The bay as a result became untenable for swimmers in large areas. The dump covers 321 acres of land and it has finally been closed down.
A new facility was opened prior to the closing and the latest safeguards were used in the construction of the Seropedica dump site. The new site is noted as being a very high-tech site, with ground monitors.
The leachates which formerly ran from the soil into the ecosystem of the bay will now be captured. Along with the capture of the methane and carbon dioxide emissions, the new facility will have the ability to drastically alter the skyline of Rio.
The new facility plus the work performed on the Gramacho facility are expected to reduce the carbon dioxide releases by nearly 1.4 thousand tons per year.
The Gramacho facility got layers of soil almost fifteen feet deep stacked twelve layers deep to trap the methane and carbon dioxide for capturing.
One by-product of the closing of Gramacho is the loss of work for the 'catadores'. The catadores sprang up in response to the tons of garbage being dumped and the ability to make a living by recycling what they could find. When Gramacho was running full time, as much as 9,000 tons per day from Rio and four surrounding cities were brought in daily.
It is estimated that more than 60 million tons of trash are in Gramacho, and the state controlled energy company Petrobras will be in charge of the energy production from methane produced by the more than two hundred wells involved in the capture process.
The new facility makes the catadores an outmoded form of recycling, and while the government is offering a one-time cash payment of $7,000, many of the catadores are used to making as much as $1,500 per month and are concerned the pay outs won't last very long.
The catadores were made instantly famous by the movie "Waste Land", which was nominated for an Oscar in 2010. And while the film didn't achieve Oscar winning status, it did alter the status of the people known as catadores. From being garbage pickers to 'pickers of recyclable materials', their lives were changed for the better. There remains however, a stigma attached to the job and that stigma may make it difficult for them to find new employment.
The money earned as a catadore far outstrips the minimum wage job of $300 per month and allows the catadores a form of dignity many in the country can't afford.
More about Rio de janeiro, Dump, Landfill, catadores, Gramacho
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