Oxford County is completely reliant on groundwater. Aquifers (underground pockets that contain and transmit groundwater) are the sources that our wells and springs tap into. Water is always moving between cracks and spaces within the rock, always taking the path of least resistance, absorbing minerals and compounds along the way.
Groundwater also contributes significantly to the stream flows in the Thames River and its tributaries.
Karst is a geological process in which the landscape is largely shaped by the dissolving action of water on carbonate bedrock (usually limestone, dolomite or marble).
This process produces features such as crevices, vertical tunnels, underground caves and sinkholes.
Vulnerability to contamination: Contaminants can easily enter karst aquifers. Inside the aquifer, contaminants can quickly spread over large distances, due to rapid and turbulent flow. Natural processes such as filtration are often less effective than in other aquifers.
Rain and snow filter down through the landfill aiding in the process of decomposition. As the precipitation percolates through the landfill, it takes in dissolved components from the biodegrading waste. Some of these components target:
• Arsenic- blood, kidneys, central nervous systems
• Lead- brain, blood, kidneys, thyroid
• Mercury- brain and kidneys
• Cadmium- liver, placenta, kidneys, lungs, brain and bones
• Aluminum- central nervous systems, kidney and digestive systems
• Trichloroethylene- known carcinogen
• And many harmful chemicals
This toxic soup is called Leachate!
A failure of the landfill leachate containment system is possible through a number of ways:
• “Plastic liners…are never totally impermeable. All plastics become brittle, weak and break up with age.” (Toxic Landfills Research Findings)
• “Leachate collection systems clog up and fail…” (Basics of Landfills)
• Pumps fail through mechanical or human error
• Seismic activity or quarrying blasting
• or environmental events like tornados
Any of these scenarios would spread leachate through the system of karst-created underground pathways into our aquifers and the environment at large.