KIRAS Security Research



Flooding of municipal solid waste landfills in Austria — An environmental hazard?

Municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills pose a long-lasting risk for humans and the environment. While landfill emissions under regular operating conditions are well investigated, landfill behaviour and associated emissions in case of flooding are widely unknown, although damages have been documented. The study conducted aimed at developing a methodology for determining the proportion of Austrian MSW landfills endangered by flooding, and at evaluating the impact flooded landfills might have on the environment during a flood event. The risk of flooding of MSW landfills has been assessed by using information about flood risk zones. Out of 1064 landfills investigated in Austria, 312 sites or about 30% are located in or next to areas flooded on average once in 200 years. Around 5% of these landfills are equipped with flood protection facilities. Material inventories of 147 landfill sites endangered by flooding have been established, and potential emissions during a flood event have been estimated by assuming the worst case of complete landfill leaching and erosion. The environmental relevance of emissions during flooding has been discussed on the basis of a case study in the western part of Austria. Although environmental hazards need to be assessed on a site- and event-specific basis, the results indicate that flooded MSW landfills represent in general small environmental risks for the period of flooding.

Univ.Ass. Dr. Johann Fellner
Institut für Wassergüte, Ressourcenmanagement und Abfallwirtschaft, TU Wien
Karlsplatz 13/226


  • Institut für Wassergüte, Ressourcenmanagement und Abfallwirtschaft, Technische Universität Wien
  • Institut für Wasserwirtschaft, Hydrologie und konstruktiven Wasserbau, Universität für Bodenkultur
  • Institut für Wirtschaftsmathematik, Technische Universität Wien
  • Umweltbundesamt GesmbH

Deponieerosion an der Aflenz (Vorarlberg) im Jahr 2005