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The potential application of red mud and soil mixture as additive to the surface layer of a landfill cover system

Éva Ujaczki , Viktória Feigl , Mónika Molnár , Emese Vaszita , Nikolett Uzinger , Attila Erdélyi , Katalin Gruiz


Received July 08, 2015,Revised December 14, 2015, Accepted December 15, 2015, Available online February 01, 2016

Volume 28,2016,Pages 189-196

Red mud, the by-product of aluminum production, has been regarded as a problematic residue all over the world. Its storage involves risks as evidenced by the Ajka red mud spill, an accident in Hungary where the slurry broke free, flooding the surrounding areas. As an immediate remediation measure more than 5 cm thick red mud layer was removed from the flooded soil surface. The removed red mud and soil mixture (RMSM) was transferred into the reservoirs for storage. In this paper the application of RMSM is evaluated in a field study aiming at re-utilizing waste, decreasing cost of waste disposal and providing a value-added product. The purpose was to investigate the applicability of RMSM as surface layer component of landfill cover systems. The field study was carried out in two steps: in lysimeters and in field plots. The RMSM was mixed at ratios ranging between 0 and 50% w/w with low quality subsoil (LQS) originally used as surface layer of an interim landfill cover. The characteristics of the LQS + RMSM mixtures compared to the subsoil (LQS) and the RMSM were determined by physical–chemical, biological and ecotoxicological methods. The addition of RMSM to the subsoil (LQS) at up to 20% did not result any ecotoxic effect, but it increased the water holding capacity. In addition, the microbial substrate utilization became about triple of subsoil (LQS) after 10 months. According to our results the RMSM mixed into subsoil (LQS) at 20% w/w dose may be applied as surface layer of landfill cover systems.

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