Background information on Aruba’s Landfill


KerinTX is a frequent contributor to Scared Monkeys. She has a degree in Environmental Engineering and has worked with Landfill Design and Planning previously. She was kind enough to send in this description of the Aruban Landfill and then parts of her conversations with other readers. Another great example of the facinating and informative discussions  that are occurring in our discussion forum.

The following is a description of  landfills as given to the Monkeys, and also their subsequent questions and my answers. My opinions are based on several environmental projects which appear similar in nature to the one in Aruba.

The Aruban Landfill does meet Subtitle D regulations and appears to have all leak detection and leachate collection systems in place. In other words, this landfill would be up-to-date…not just a dumping ground. They appear to have strict recycling guidelines too.
In a landfill of this type, you would have a current “live” cell. All previously used areas would be “capped off” and closed for disposal and nearly impossible to easily dig through. (they have a solid membrane surface and then usually erosion fabic and sod on top).



Kerin: Outstanding research job. Do you know how often they cap off the areas? Is it possible that one area that was open at the time

Natalee was put there could have been capped off by now?



Yes, that is always a possibility, WG. It would depend on the volume of the cell at the time of disposal. A new cell could be in use by now. And that would mean normally in a new area of the LF also.
And the thing about new landfills, the leachate systems used, actually take the decomposing waste and it is actually channeled off so that the LF is environmentally sound.
Then the LF at it’s maturity is closed and a park, golf course or other facility is built on the site. The only thing I did not find is the expected life of this LF.




Kerin and Wolfe: I will forebear from making any sardonic remarks about how well Joran’s education may have served him. That said, I am in agreement with you both. He and the others may well have buried the body in panic and haste. Then he remembered the landfill. This would explain a lot, including Tim’s assertion that Natalee had been placed in a temporary grave.




Exactly, WG. Because let’s not forget Tim Miller’s statement about feeling strongly that her body had been buried and then moved. If Joran picked up any information on the landfill during his school field trip, he would know what I have told you. Plus, landfills are such a touchy subject to many people (i.e. NOT in MY neighborhood), so the local government , etc. will do a good job in educating residents on the safety of the site. You can learn a LOT from those tours.



When they start searching it I am sure there will be many questions. But in the meantime….what type of protective gear would the searchers wear?? Surely some type of breathing apparatus? How in your opinion, will the search be carried out…..will they use the special equipmet Tim brought and then if it shows an indication of the methane gas….what would they do then? I know you can’t say for sure….but just an ‘I thinkl” would be great. Sunny


Sunny…great questions. If they search the leachate/sludge pond adjacent to the LF, that is going to be tricky. You would need to pump that waste out to another location and it is hazardous. It would NOT be done like the pond they are now draining at all since the waste would need to be contained.
If they search in the landfill, and it is an open “live” cell…then just general precautions would be used. The methane detector we have heard about would pick up abnormally high levels of methane which would indicate a corpse. If (and this is doubtful) that Natalee was placed in a cell which is now closed, I really would not want to speculate on the condition of her remains.
Hope that helps.


Thank you…I wonder if there is a place that he hazardous waste could safely be pumped to??? How would is usually be contained? Do you know if a dead animal would emit the same type of gas as a human?? ask because seeing that donkey/horse what ever in the dump has haunted me….I can’t get it out of my mind. No need for me to go further on that one.



They would need a back-up pond, Sunny. The pond is lined with a solid membrane liner system to prevent ground contamination so moving it to another pond would not be easy.
As far as methane, it is present in all LF’s…it is the gas emitted due to decomposition. In today’s LFs you have a piping system and the methane is released to a specific area which normally has trees planted. As long as the trees are flourishing, the methane levels are in the acceptable range. Any animal would elevate the levels, yes.


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  • Human Remain Found in PA Landfill; “significant development” in the missing person’s case of John Fiocco Jr
  • Sunday; Not a Day of Rest for EquuSearch

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