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LAnDfILL SLIp fAILURe RepAIR wITh geogRIDS usIng wasTe fIll maTeRIal aT Danylan, wales

Chaido Doulala-Rigby of Tensar International UK and Andrew Stone of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council show how Tensars geogrids can be used to solve landslip problems.
Danylan landfill operated from 1955 until its closure in 1971 just prior to the introduction of legislation with an emphasis on environmental protection that would have required the landfill to have a license. In early 2004, and following a prolonged period of rain, an approximately 18m high landslip occurred at the northwestern end of the former landfill. The landfill involved approximately 4,000 m3 of uncontrolled refuse tip material in a matrix of made ground. Testing of the landslide debris indicated that, if left unattended, its chemical composition could pose a significant chronic risk to human health, flora, fauna and controlled waters. Restoration of the landslide to its original profile included the engineered placement of the failed waste debris back into the slip scar with the aid of Tensar polymer geogrid reinforcement providing a robust, cost effective, sustainable, environmental friendly and maintenance free engineering solution.

Danylan landfill is situated on the lower slopes of the Rhondda Valley in south wales, immediately above public amenity features and the Rhondda River. It was operated prior to licensing legislation from 1955 until its closure in 1971. limited record information suggests that the landfill received a mixture of un-compacted, undocumented domestic, commercial and some industrial waste during its 16 years of operation. The landfill is forming a fill slope standing at approximate slope angles ranging from 30 to 45 degrees. at the top of the slope is grazing land; the slope itself has a few trees, mostly birch and ash and, at the bottom, a terrace with an amenity recreation area and cycleway. Below that there is another terrace occupied by the access road to the local cricket club, playground and the river.

The Landslide
Danylan landfill had challenged the local authority engineers over many years, with a succession of partial slips. This had created safety problems lower down the slope, as well as making land unusable. On 4th february 2004, following a prolonged period of rainfall, a major landslip occurred in the landfill. The extent of the landslip is marked in yellow in fig. 1 below.

figure 2 Overall view of the landfill showing the landslide (february 2004).

Various works had been undertaken after the landfill to ensure as far as reasonably possible the safety of the site, to clear blocked drainage systems, and to investigate the chemical and physical properties of the waste material. The information gained from the soil testing had indicated that there were contaminants within the debris material. Based on that information, the failed landfill was concluded to represent a potential short-term medium risk to construction operatives, the general public, and controlled waters. It was therefore important that a remediation method and construction was sought as soon as possible. In the meantime, the site was fenced to exclude the public.

Restoration Target
Danylan landfill was the responsibility of the Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council (RCTCBC) as landowner. under section 78(a) of the uK environmental Protection act 1990 the site was considered by Public Health and Protection section to be potentially contaminated land and as such the Council had to ensure that the site did not cause harm to the environment. The initial assessments of the failed landfill concluded that it could pose a potential short-term medium risk to construction operatives, the general public, and controlled waters. In order to mitigate this risk and to avoid further deterioration, the Council set out to construct a stable slope which could be successfully vegetated to match the landscape, contain the contents of the landfill and create safe conditions for amenities and people at the bottom of the slope. The whole restoration project needed to achieve its target as sustainably and cost-effectively as possible, with minimum use of imported materials.

figure 1 Plan view of landfill/landslip location

The landslip involved an 18m high section of slope at the north-east end of the landfill. It resulted in a flowslide of around 4,000 m3 of tip material engulfing an area of approximately 10,000 m2 and burying both terraces occupied by the down-gradient public amenity features before coming to rest a short distance from the banks of the Rhondda River, fig. 2.

Landslide Investigation
ReASonS of The fAILURe
The location of the slip was on a steep 1:2 (V:H) slope above the River Rhondda, where a mixture of ground water intrusion and standing surface water had destabilised the slope, fig. 3. It was concluded that the landslide was most likely triggered by either raised groundwater levels possibly occurring as a consequence of, or exacerbated by, surface water intrusion via tension cracks close to the slopes crest.

Both a Desk study and an intrusive geo-environment study were commissioned soon after the landslide to investigate the chemical and physical properties of the waste material. They are both outlined in the following sections.

for more detailed geo-environmental and geotechnical assessments such that an appropriate remediation and restoration strategy could be implemented (lR&e 2004). a full environmental risk assessment was subsequently undertaken in march 2005 by the land Reclamation & engineering group (lR&e 2007) of the Rhondda Cynon Taff Council in accordance with DefRa & environment agency (2004) including the identification of significant pollution linkages and introducing the concept of the conceptual site model. The study concluded that significant pollution linkages to PaH, PCB and isolated areas of lead and nickel contamination were identified. The groundwater risk at the site was assessed as lOw, suggesting that there was no evidence that the site was adversely impacting upon controlled waters receptors.

gRoUnD InveSTIgATIon
In march 2005, RCTCBC commissioned C J associates to carry out an intrusive ground investigation comprising 14 machine-excavated trial pits (TP1 to TP14) and 2 cable percussion boreholes. The fourteen trial pits were all excavated over the failed parts of the landfill and through the mantle of made ground (which comprises predominantly flow debris from the former landfill), and into the underlying glacial Deposits. The two boreholes were put down into the presently stable landfill a short distance upslope of the main back scarp of the landslip. The trial pits indicated that the mantle of made ground deposited as flow debris was approximately 0.8m to 2.5m thick whereas the two exploratory boreholes revealed that the intact layer of the made ground was up to 10m thick. The consistency of the made ground encountered comprised a heterogeneous mix of fine and coarse-grained soil with variable fractions of waste material including fragments of wood, plastic, glass, fabric, metal, and bone. The gravel size particles were variously described as being angular to subrounded of mudstone, shale and sandstone. The mantle of made ground was underlain by glacial Deposits which were reported to comprise predominantly fine-grained soil, the consistency of which was generally described as soft.

figure 3 water was one of the main reasons of the landslide (february 2004).

DeSK STUDy pUBLISheD geoLogy

The superficial geology of this locality predominantly consists of clayey glacial till-type superficial deposits inter-bedded with Pleistocene glacial-derived sand and gravel. These deposits are generally 3 metres in thickness and also include occasional rounded elongate cobble-sized sandstones. These superficial deposits lie unconformably on the Carboniferous Pennant measure sandstone of the lower Pennant measures (Rhondda sandstone), which is 21m thick and inter-bedded conformably with a variety of coal seams. at this locality it is the 0.6m thick number 1 Rhondda Rider and no.1 Rhondda coal seams that are predominant.

DeSK STUDy hyDRogeoLogy AnD gRoUnDwATeR RegIme

Desk study revealed that the site is not within a groundwater protection zone nor are there any identified water abstraction points within 500m of the site. Reference to groundwater monitoring undertaken as part of site-specific investigations (lR&e 2007), indicates that median groundwater levels beneath the landslip tend to exist at the interface between the landfill material and the underlying clayey glacial till. maximum recorded groundwater levels were encountered at almost half way up the slope height. It is believed that there is a relatively deep aquifer within the sandstone strata that has relatively little influence upon the groundwater regime for this site, being effectively confined by the overlying, impermeable clay deposits.


Based on the strata descriptions given on the preliminary exploratory hole records, geotechnical classification testing was carried out on specific soil samples extracted from the trial pits and boreholes to determine the nature of the encountered soils and to decide on further testing for the definition of the soil shear properties. Classification testing of the mantle of made ground (or flow debris) revealed its consistency to be quite uniform and to be typically dominated by sand and gravel size particles with subordinate fractions of fine-grained soil comprising silt and clay of intermediate to high plasticity. Direct shear tests were performed on samples of the predominantly coarse-grained made ground using the large shear box apparatus. In order to make up the large volumes of soil required for the large shear box tests, the test specimens were made-up by combining individual bulk samples obtained from different exploratory holes. The glacial Deposits appear to be dominated by clay and silt size particles with subordinate fractions of sand and, in places, gravel. These predominantly fine-grained soils appear to range from clay of low plasticity to silt of high and very high plasticity. Direct shear tests were conducted on samples of the predominantly fine-grained glacial Deposits using the small shear box apparatus. all shear box tests were conducted under drained conditions on remoulded specimens that were compacted at their received moisture contents. The normal stresses were specified to examine effective shear strengths over the range of confining pressures that are likely to be relevant to the stability of the re-engineered slope.

On 19th february 2004, 12 near-surface soil samples were collected from the debris field of the landslip in order to gain an initial understanding of the nature of the landfill materials. six water samples were also collected from pipes, issues and the River Rhondda fawr. The results of the february 2004 investigations (lR&e 2004) identified that the contaminants of concern (COC) found were arsenic, copper, zinc, ammonia, Poly-aromatic Hydrocarbons (PaHs) and Poly-Chlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). a limited number of leaching tests on soil samples and groundwater sample tests from noticeable points of flow from under the refuse tip additionally identified ammonia and PaHs as COCs. However, sampling of watercourses running through the debris field indicated that the quality of surface water was good and comparable to an upstream control sample taken from the River Rhondda fawr. Recommendations were made

Landfill Restoration Design

In parallel to the site Investigation commission, RCTCBC appointed ground Investigation limited, which is an independent geotechnical Consultant, as well as Tensar International limited to collectively carry out the landfill landslide restoration design. The geotechnical Consultant was appointed to review and interpret the geotechnical field records of intrusive ground investigatory and laboratory works and to provide advice on the selection of effective shear strength parameters for the disturbed landfill materials for use as reinforced fill and the underlying glacial Deposits for use in limit equilibrium analyses of slope stability. RCTCBC used this data to carry out the external stability of the proposed reinstated reinforced soil structure, thereby providing the required reinstated reinforced soil block geometry to satisfy external stability. Tensar was appointed to carry out the internal stability of the proposed reinforced soil structure that was to be reinstated, based on the provided geometry and the soil properties of the disturbed landfill material. RCTCBC also carried out the contamination assessment and remediation environmental requirements.

Soil Type Re-worked made ground (all confing pressures) glacial Till (confining effective pressure <65kPa) glacial Till (confining effective pressure =65kPa)


c (kPa)







Table 1 adopted shear strength Parameters


following the evaluation of the soil geotechnical test data, RCTCBC carried out the external stability analysis and design of the proposed reinstated waste fill slope. In essence, the design carried out ignored completely the stabilisation affect of the Tensar geogrids on the slope and treated the slope as a mass gravity, self-standing soil slope. The proposed face profile of the reinstated embankment was chosen to be as close as possible to the estimated original pre-failed slope profile with proposed face angles ranging from 28 to 45 degrees with an average of about 31. Various representative sections were cut through the proposed alignment and the geometries required for global, stand alone stability of each section were defined. stability checks included both rotational and translational analysis, as well as sliding analysis though the base of the proposed slope. Typically, the width of the reinforced soil block required for external stability was about equal to the height of the slope.


The results of all large shear box tests conducted on specimens of made ground were compiled with respect to both peak and residual effective shear strengths over a range of normal effective pressures. evaluation of these results showed that at low normal stresses (below around 100 to 150 kPa) peak shear strengths were often considerably greater than described by the above effective friction angles. examination of the laboratory test data revealed that appreciable dilation (volume increase during shear) took place in many of the instances where these high shear strengths were mobilised at lower confining pressures. It was therefore recommended that the enhanced shear strengths due to dilation are not relied upon for the design of the proposed restoration works but instead the residual shear strength values be used for effective stress, limit equilibrium analyses of slope stability. similar analysis was carried out for the glacial till. although the peak effective shear strengths of the glacial Deposits exhibit appreciable variation, the residual shear strengths of the glacial Deposits exhibit less variation. It was recommended that cohesion is not relied upon at low confining pressures and in order to minimise the possibility of modelling excessively high shear stresses (which may not be consistently mobilised in the field) both the peak and residual shear strengths would be best described by bi-linear strength envelopes. The limiting confining pressure was found to be 65kPa for residual values: below that values of residual friction angle of 36 degrees and 0 cohesion were recommended; for confining pressures above 65kPa residual friction angle of 19 and an apparent cohesion of 25 kPa were recommended for design. In summary, for both the made ground and the glacial Deposits the following cautious estimates were derived for use in the design, Table 1.


Once the slope geometry and the extent of the reinforced soil block was defined by the geotechnical Consultants, the relevant sections were provided to Tensar to carry out the internal stability of the soil block reinforced with geogrids. The internal stability analysis was carried out using the Bishops modified method of slices that utilises the limiting equilibrium theory. The slope was designed for 120 years design life and the in-soil temperature was taken as 10C. Typically, the geogrid type required for internal stability was found to be Tensars 40Re uniaxial geogrid with approximate long term strength of 24 kn/m, detailed at vertical spacing of 1.0m with lengths ranging from 2m to 22m. secondary biaxial Tensar geogrids, 2m long, were also provided at 0.3m intervals to assist with the otherwise unsupported face construction. a typical design section is shown in fig. 4 below.

figure 4 Typical reinforced soil slope design section construction

The 8,000 tonnes of failed waste material was excavated from where it was initially deposited and stockpiled on site. The collected waste material went through a process of light screening for removal of large objects. The construction sequence involved levelling of the foundation level and appropriate benching of the back scarp at benches 1.5m wide. a Tensar geocomposite membrane was firstly laid along the base of the slope and back slope benching and up to the maximum level of where groundwater was encountered. free draining granular material was then laid on top of the Tensar geocomposite at layers of 150 to 300mm thick and in parallel with the waste fill/geogrid placement. a filter membrane was finally laid on top of the free draining granular material completing the backslope drainage construction that was designed to minimise the inflow of groundwater into the emplaced debris materials, subsequently minimising the leaching potential of contaminated material. a perforated pipe was also installed in a rubble drain constructed along the entire toe of the reinstated slope to collect the drained water. The bulk of the reinforced slope construction involved placement of the waste fill at 150mm layers and compaction near to the tested optimum tested density of the fill. Installation of the appropriate type of Tensar geogrid at the appropriate level followed (fig 5) and the process was repeated until the slope reached the required crest level.

embankment. This system subsequently held the topsoil in place until it was hydroseeded with a coir fibre mulch to give an effective protective covering to the slope and minimise erosion. Vegetation of the slope was hence rapid, giving a decent covering at 35 days, fig. 6. works were carried out by salix River and wetland services ltd. The slipped portion of the slope requiring reinstatement was nearly 20 metres high and 60 metres in length. The slope reinstatement construction commenced in late 2006 and was completed in 2008 with a pause in construction for most of the winter and summer of 2007 due to severe adverse weather conditions. Despite these adverse weather conditions, no remedial works were required prior to the re-commencement of the project. The project was completed at a total cost of 775,000.

figure 6 Vegetation growth on the restored embankment at 35 days.

following completion of works, sampling and subsequent laboratory analysis of imported materials used in the formation of the cover system was undertaken in order to verify that remediation has been successful. from the test data collected and evaluated it was concluded that the remediation objectives have been successfully met and that no further monitoring is required.


Once the slope geometry and the extent of the reinforced soil In accordance with the Highway standards, plant with vibrating rollers was subscribed for the compaction of the waste fill. However, due to the nature of the waste fill material the vibrations during compaction led to moisture concentration at the surface of the compacted layer resulting in dump trucks sinking. To overcome the compaction problem multiple passages of tracked plant was engaged as an alternative construction method. small tractor dumpers also replaced large dumper trucks for transporting the waste within the site.

figure 5 Construction of reinforced soil embankment.

In line with the findings of the geo-environmental risk assessment recommendations, where applicable, debris material was delineated and materials with higher levels of contaminants were placed at depths greater than 2m from the upper surface of the engineered slope. The engineered embankment was subsequently overlain with a cover system of imported material thus providing a break in the source-pathway-receptor linkage. The cover system generally comprised 150mm to 200mm of topsoil to Bs3882:1994 (general Purpose) and 300mm to 350mm of subsoil to Bs 3882:1994. a physical barrier in the form of a Tensar non-woven geotextile was placed beneath the cover system. This was to discourage excavation below the cover system, reduce the degree of intermixing and inhibit root penetration. In order to counteract the downslope migration of the topsoil covering required on the re-instated embankment, rows of brushwood faggot fascines were installed in rows across the

using Tensar geogrids, the project team delivered a sustainable solution for the restoration of the landslip by mainly re-using the material on site instead of excess importation of primary aggregates. This ensured sustainability, excellent cost-effectiveness and a low carbon footprint. The solution greatly aided on-site safety and ensured a quick project completion, despite atrocious weather, which made it impossible to work on-site at times. The Tensar-reinforced soil structure and topsoil covering performed well during the construction phase under difficult weather conditions. monitoring of the embankment postconstruction has indicated that the restoration of the landslip has been wholly successful. as well as offering a more sustainable solution the project team estimated that there was an approximate saving of 250,000 on the total project costs compared with alternative methods investigated.

Bs 5930 (1999). Code of Practice for Site Investigations, HmsO, london. CJ associates (2006). Site Investigation NO R1226 Factual Report, CJ associates, Bristol, uK. DefRa & environment agency (2004). Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination, R&D Publication ClR11. lR&e (2004). Danylan Landslip Initial Appraisal, RCTCBC, l12322. lR&e (2007a). Danylan Landslip Restoration Environmental Risk Assessment & Restoration strategy, RCTCBC, l16638. lR&e (2009). Danylan Landslip Restoration Verification of remediation, RCTCBC, l18795. Tensar International limited (2007). Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council Landslip Restoration, Design submission, Blackburn, uK.

Tensar International is sincerely grateful to the Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council for allowing this project to be published and for all their valuable help and support in writing and editing this paper.

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