Research Article Open Access

Impact of Earthquake Demolition Debris on the Quality of Groundwater

M. S. Benmenni and K. Benrachedi


Problem statement: Debris from construction or demolition/deconstruction processes have no significant impact on the environment as they are res-usable and inert. This has been also long admitted for solid waste generated by the demolition of damaged cities following violent earthquakes. Approach: This study is a contribution to the assessment of actual impact on the quality of groundwater of buried demolition debris from the city of Boumerdes, in the North of Algeria 5 years after the May 21st 2003 earthquake hit the region. The public discharge of Boumerdes city has been used as a temporary landfill. It is located about 5 km downtown of Boumerdes at the Tidjelabine site which is marly-calcareous formation. Leachate from the landfill was directly rejected in the receiving environment, where the soil is marly-calcareous type with cracks giving a variable permeability (10-2 m sec-1 to nearly 10-6 m sec-1) that facilitates infiltration of potential pollutants to the groundwater. The slope character (from 5-10%) of the field contributes to pollutants movement and may accentuate water quality deterioration. Three domestic wells (designated S1, S2 and S3) were selected in the vicinity of the landfill and served as piezometers. Leachate samples were taken from the landfill and evaluated. Results: Leachate analysis indicated organic matter with relatively high COD (1136 mg L-1 O2) and BOD5 (200 mg L-1 O2); whereas the pH yielded 7.65 thus indicating fermentation phase of the landfill. Heavy metal contents were beyond national standard limits except for Pb with 0.51 mg L-1 which is slightly higher than limit value of 0.5 mg L-1. More than five years after the creation of this landfill and despite its predominant C&D nature, these results showed that it was following a typical urban wastes decomposition scheme. Same analysis carried on water samples drawn from the piezometers yielded following results: acidic pH (6.88), acceptable values of target heavy metals concentrations except for Zn with 0.779 mg L-1. Additionally bacteriological cross analysis (membrane filter and multi-tube methods) showed groundwater contamination by total coliforms (1100/100 mL), fecal coliforms (11/100 mL) and fecal streptococci (1100/100 mL). Conclusion: These results proved that leachate had reached the first aquifer horizon about 10 m beneath soil surface. Prior to any remediation program, Management of Boumerdes Municipality is called to quickly implement a reuse and recycling program of the demolition debris in order to stop water reservoirs contamination source.

American Journal of Applied Sciences
Volume 7 No. 4, 2010, 545-550


Submitted On: 30 November 2009 Published On: 30 April 2010

How to Cite: Benmenni, M. S. & Benrachedi, K. (2010). Impact of Earthquake Demolition Debris on the Quality of Groundwater. American Journal of Applied Sciences, 7(4), 545-550.

  • 14 Citations



  • Demolition debris
  • landfill
  • leachate
  • heavy metals
  • groundwater
  • infiltration