Environmental risk index: a tool to assess the safety of dams for leachate

J Hazard Mater. 2009 Feb 15;162(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2008.05.018. Epub 2008 May 9.


Dams for leachate store very toxic substances that contain a large amount of organic material and, probably, heavy metals; they therefore constitute an important threat to the environment. Existing models of environmental risk assessment for landfills do not take into consideration the specific risk that leachate dams may represent for the environment. In this paper a methodology to improve the environmental safety is presented according to the parameters used in their construction and management. In order to do that, the following characteristics of the dam must be known: (1) geotechnical stability, (2) erosion of downstream slope, (3) type of sealing of the dam, (4) overtopping probability, (5) volume of leachate stored inside the dam and (6) pollution load of leachate. Once these parameters have been calculated, they are transformed by means of rating curves into homogeneous units, so as to make it possible to operate between them. From the study and analysis of these parameters an environmental risk index for a dam for leachate can be calculated. If the environmental risk index exceeds an established value then it involves a dam for leachate with high environmental risk, therefore preventive measures in its design, construction and management would be necessary.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Metals / analysis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Soil
  • Spain
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Pollution, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Supply / analysis*


  • Metals
  • Soil
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical