Shutting down old landfills for good

Three closed landfills on the island of Malta are being rehabilitated and restored. The EU co-funded project will mainly involve capping the sites, so they can later be used in new ways including public recreation.

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Besides making the three sites more attractive through landscaping, the work will tackle potential health and environmental problems associated with these landfills and bring them all up to EU standards. Rehabilitated land from the landfills is expected to total 370 000 square metres.

Capping and landscaping

Malta submitted its project for the rehabilitation and restoration of three closed landfills in May 2010. It will focus on Magħtab (active from 1978-2004), Qortin (1968-2004) and Marsascala (1970-1979).

At the Magħtab and Qortin sites, work will address potential impacts on human health and the environment due to combustion of wastes, landfill gas production and emissions of leachate. Neither site was compliant (or could be made compliant) with the engineering requirements of the EU Landfill Directive of 1999. Their final rehabilitation and restoration is in line with Malta’s Solid Waste Management Strategy, designed to make them suitable for beneficial use.

Under the project, these two sites will be capped using a combination of several different techniques. These will minimise leachate production and aerial emissions of landfill and combustion gases. Other work on the sites includes installation of drainage schemes and landscaping, such as tree planting.

The Marsascala site closed in 1979. Due to the age of the waste, it is not considered potentially harmful for health and the environment. So work will concentrate on turning this derelict land into an area fit for beneficial re-use by the community.

Only simple capping of inert material is needed here. Native and Mediterranean plants will also be planted on site, as part of a wider restoration scheme that includes car parking facilities and stabilisation of a rock face for future development into a climbing area.

Public parks

The project will benefit both residents and the many tourists to Malta, by reducing the negative visual impact of the current landfill sites. It will also improve air and groundwater quality around the sites and provide a platform for their future development for recreation, such as parkland.

The project is expected to directly create some 80 jobs during the implementation phase and 24 during the operational phase. After its completion, the sites will be managed and maintained by waste-management company WasteServ Malta Ltd.

Draft date