• Design and Operational Challenges and Solutions for Solid Waste Management in Northern Alaska

      Squier, David (University of Alaska Anchorage, 2016-05-01)
      This paper examined the challenges of designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining an effective solid waste management system in northern Alaska. Northern Alaska presents unique challenges for developing an effective solid waste management plan. The communities in the region are not connected to the road system and the main strategy for disposing of solid waste is by developing aboveground landfills. This strategy has been used for many years, but as communities are increasing in size and the effects of climate change are becoming apparent, an adjustment in this strategy may be required. This research examined the current solid waste practices in northern Alaskan, reviews the regulatory requirements, isolates difficulties in current solid waste practices, identifies the unique challenges of working in the region, and anticipates operational practices that may create problems in the future. A main topic of study was the effect of the heat generated by exposed and decomposing waste in landfills and how this could affect the stability of the permafrost below and around the landfill. After accounting for all of the aspects identified, design and operational recommendations and strategies for solid waste management in northern Alaska were outlined. This paper considered solutions not only for current problems facing northern Alaska, but tried to anticipate what problems may occur decades or centuries in the future when conditions may be vastly different than they are today. An effective solid waste management strategy was found to be essential for a healthy community for current and future generations.