CEE - Solid Waste Workshop Registration Page

Geoenvironmental Engineering and
Solid Waste Management Workshop
- Current Practices and Innovation

Machinery working in a landfill.

April 10, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Scott Conference Center, Omaha

The Geoenvironmental Engineering and Solid Waste Management (GESWM) workshop will facilitate an understanding of current practices and technologies regarding solid waste management in the midwest and the nation, and will introduce innovative geoenvironmental engineering research done in collaboration with other disciplines. Workshop participants from across the region will have a networking opportunity. This full day of interactive discussion and technical presentations from waste industry experts, including academics, state agencies and facility owners, will cover topics such as liner and cover systems, current issues and research in the waste management industry, health effects on solid management and more. The workshop is supported by a system science grant from the University of Nebraska Foundation.

Free Registration

7 hrs PDH credits


  • 8:30 - 8:40 AM: Welcome
    • Dr. Mark Riley, Associate Dean for Research, College of Engineering, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • 8:40 AM - 12:10 PM: Speaker Presentations
    • Dr. James M. Tinjum
    • Dr. Craig H. Benson (Keynote)
    • Mr. Garrett Williams and Mr. Luke Cunningham
    • Dr. Stephanie Bolyard
  • 12:10 - 1:10 PM: Lunch
  • 1:10 - 3:40 PM: Speaker Presentations
    • Dr. Risto Rautiainen
    • Dr. John Hartwell
    • Dr. Jongwan Eun
  • 3:40 - 3:55 PM: Break
  • 3:55 - 4:30 PM: Panel Discussion
    • Moderators: Drs. Shannon Bartelt-Hunt, Yunwoo Nam and Chandran Achutan
  • 4:30 PM: Wrap-up and adjourn


  • Craig H. Benson, PhD, PE, F. AAAS, F. NAI, NAE, Dean, School of Engineering, University of Virginia
    • Keynote Lecture: Innovations in Liner and Cover Materials for Waste Containment
      • Composite barriers consisting of a geomembrane overlying a compacted clay barrier or geosynthetic clay liner (GCL) have been a mainstay of liner and cover systems for waste containment since the advent of Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Geomembranes comprised of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and GCLs with sodium bentonite are the most common barrier materials today, and have proven as highly effective in municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. New waste streams and unanticipated conditions, such as coal combustion products (CCPs) and elevated temperature landfills (ETLFs), can require innovative barrier materials that have unique properties or resilience when exposed to unusual leachates or gases with chemistry outside the norm for MSW landfills. Three of these innovative barrier materials are described in this presentation: bentonite-polymer composite (BPC) GCLs, co-laminated geomembranes (CLGMs) with a resistive core, and multi-sorbing barrier (MSB) materials. These barriers provide unique resistance to extreme leachates (e.g., BPC GCLs for CCP leachates), high resistance to transport of organic compounds (e.g., CLGMs for odiferous compounds from ETLFs), and capability to sequester a range of challenging contaminants (e.g., MSB to sequester mercury and anionic radionuclides). Opportunities are described where these new barrier materials can be used to solve challenging containment problems. Technology challenges for each of these innovative materials are described.
    • Craig H. Benson is Dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Virginia as well as the Hamilton Endowed Chair in Engineering. Dr. Benson has a BS from Lehigh University and MSE and PhD degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining the University of Virginia, Dean Benson was appointed as a Distinguished Professor, Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Chair of Geological Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was also Director of Sustainability Research and Education for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, leading one of the three cross-campus strategic initiatives.

      During Benson’s time at UVA, the School of Engineering has developed a new strategic plan focused on interdisciplinary research and education that has developed linkages between traditional academic units within the School of Engineering and amongst the other schools and colleges at UVA. The research enterprise has grown more than 30% each year, and the School has received more than $60M in strategic investments. Enhancing diversity is a pillar of the strategic plan, which has included a $30M Clark Scholars endowment to provide scholarships for 80 diverse undergraduate students in Engineering. Amongst public universities, the School of Engineering has achieved the highest 4-yr graduation rate, the highest 4-yr graduation rate for African American students, and the highest percentage of women engineering undergraduates in the nation. The graduate student population in Engineering has grown substantially, including a 68% increase in PhD students, and is now the second largest at UVA next to the School of Medicine. The number of women and African American applicants to the PhD program has more than doubled, and graduate program rankings are on a steady upward trend.

      Dr. Benson is an eminent scholar in geoenvironmental engineering and a professional engineer with a career-long record of public and professional service. Dr. Benson served on the Environmental Engineering Committee of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board and currently serves on ExxonMobil’s Sustainability Advisory Committee and the National Academy of Engineering’s Roundtable Linking Academic Engineering Research and Defense Basic Science. He also serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, an industrial consortium focused on developing advanced manufacturing technology for US industry. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), a fellow of the American Academy for Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

  • James M. Tinjum, PE, PhD, F.ASCE, Associate Professor, College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    • Waste Containment System Design: History, Evolution, and Current Practice
      • This presentation will address the history, evolution, and current practice of waste containment system.
    • Dr. James M. Tinjum is an Associate Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is responsible for outreach, research, and continuing engineering education in the areas of geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering and energy geotechnics. Dr. Tinjum has extensive professional and research experience with the design, implementation, and validation of composite liner systems for the containment of wide-ranging liquid and gaseous contaminants. Over his near 30-year professional career, he has received numerous personal and team/project recognitions from ASCE, FHWA, and other organizations including a Dwight D. Eisenhower Research Fellowship, the ASCE Zone III Practitioner Advisor of the Year, the ASCE Wisconsin Section Outstanding Young Engineer and, recently, was elected as a Fellow to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Dr. Tinjum directs internationally attended engineering short courses, including his core course in Solid Waste Landfill Design.
  • Stephanie C. Bolyard, PhD, Research and Scholarship Program Manager, Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF)
    • State of Methane Emission and Oxidation Research
      • Understanding methane emissions and oxidation at landfills is important to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also to evaluate how operational and regulatory changes impacts emission rates. Generating emission and oxidation data can also be useful to refine existing emission models. EREF has funded numerous projects that have evaluated methods to measure methane emissions, quantifying methane oxidation, and developing models to estimate methane emissions. This presentation will provide an overview on the state of methane emission and oxidation research and what impacts these results have had on policy.
    • Stephanie C. Bolyard is the Research and Scholarships Program Manager for the Environmental Research and Education Foundation. Stephanie has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Central Florida (UCF), as well as a BS in Chemistry from the University of Florida. Stephanie worked for Brown and Caldwell and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection prior to starting her graduate studies. Collectively, she has ten years of academic and professional experience in various fields, including domestic wastewater permitting, environmental compliance and solid waste management. Her research expertise, include solid waste management, analytical chemistry, advance spectroscopic techniques, biological and advanced oxidation processes, domestic wastewater treatment, and nanotechnology. She has presented her research nationally and internationally and has received numerous awards and honors for her research, academic, and leadership accomplishments.

  • Garrett Williams, PE, Section Manager, & Luke Cunningham, EIT, Engineer Associate, HDR
    • Current Practices of Landfill Planning and Design
      • At HDR, it’s our desire to help clients understand and navigate the specific challenges of their waste programs. We are committed to the value that solid waste planning provides and how understanding a facility’s long-term goals can drive future decisions. We work with clients to maximize airspace value through landfill planning, operations and site optimization that can generate increased revenue for owners. We partner with clients from around the globe to help them achieve their goals by establishing metrics for success such as disposal density, borrow soils usage and site life of a given cell expansion. Our team then creates reports that objectively track their performance. Owners who can invest confidently in infrastructure or site access will have confidence knowing that their investment will remain for a longer duration and ultimately a greater return on investment. As a supplement to the landfill performance tracking, we work with sites on both their short- and long-term development strategies also known as fill planning. Fill planning provides a roadmap for site development and implementation of key infrastructure to manage the day to day operations while ensuring operational preparation for inclement weather. Innovative design techniques for landfill expansion is another area where we assist Owners. The development strategy for new cell construction is to manage and control the leachate generation from an open cell condition. This exposure can greatly increase influx of leachate quantities costing some owners an increase in leachate management. This potential expense and management headache can be mitigated with small and simple design modifications and limit leachate from the newly expanded cell.
    • Garrett Williams, PE is the Solid Waste Section Manager in Omaha and is experienced in solid waste permitting and design, leachate collection system design and treatment, closure design, stormwater management design, construction administration, landfill facility planning and construction quality assurance.

      Luke Cunningham, EIT is a Solid Waste EI experienced in solid waste projects including landfill permitting and design, leachate collection system design, storm water management design, construction administration, and construction quality assurance. His responsibilities include design, preparation of plans and specifications, and construction quality assurance. Garrett and Luke are supported by a regional team of 13 solid waste professionals in Omaha and a broader network of more than 200+ solid waste professionals globally.

  • Risto Rautiainen, PhD, Professor, Department of Environmental, Agricultural & Occupational Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center
    • Health Effects and Regulations Related to Solid Waste
      • This presentation will discuss Occupational, Environmental, and Community exposures and concerns to solid waste. Workers at solid waste sites are potentially exposed to harmful gases and physical hazards. Environmental concerns include leaching of chemicals such as heavy metals and polynuclear hydrocarbons into the water. Finally, we will address community concerns regarding odor and health, and discuss strategies to lessen their concerns.
    • Dr. Risto Rautiainen has MS in agricultural engineering from the University of Helsinki and PhD in Occupational and Environmental Health from the University of Iowa. He is professor at the University of Nebraska, College of Public Health, and he directs the NIOSH-funded Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health in Omaha, Nebraska. His main interest is in studying why occupational injuries and illnesses happen and how they can be prevented. He has over 30 years of experience in occupational, agricultural and environmental health and safety research and outreach in Finland, Canada and the US.

  • John F. Hartwell, PhD, PE, Senior Consultant, SCS Engineers, Inc.
    • Insitu Geotechnical Properties of MSW – Methodology and Engineering Implications
      • This presentation will discuss research with involved the development of a device used to measure the caliper of a large diameter gas extraction well borehole while simultaneously photographically recording the full depth of borehole wall surface. While the purpose of the experiment was initially to simply ascertain the general suitability of the typical MSW gas collection borehole for eventual receipt of a device that would eventually measure the in-situ shear strength properties of the MSW profile. The continuous cuttings sampling and photo recording methodology resulting in the precise discretization of alternating MSW and soil layers which in turn enabled the determination of the unit weight of MSW and soil with depth (w soil). Physical samples recovered from the borehole of the MSW and soil layers were tested moisture content (MC), field capacity (MCfc), specific weight, percent saturation (S), porosity (n), void ratio (e) allowing the calculation of the total vertical stress with depth (z) within the waste profile. Biological degradation parameters of MSW to include cellulose (C), hemicellulose (H), lignin (L), (C+L)/L, volatile solids (VS) and the biological methane potential (BMP) were also measured. The development of geotechnical properties with depth coupled with the examination of waste with depth and the use of landfill records regarding the date of lift placement of waste have allowed for the computation of MSW compression index (Cc), equivalent modified compression index (Cce) and the compression ratio (Cc’). The derived aggregated geotechnical properties of the solid waste with and without the interspersed soil layers have been used to develop the impact of a range of MSW to soil ratio (1:1 to 60:1) to predict the landfill airspace available within a column of representative MSW. Hartwell compares the data obtained from his research to Kavazanjian’s (1995) lower unit weight waste limit and develops a relationship between the gravimetric MSW to Soil Ratio (MSRg) and the shape factors of the Zekkos (2005) unit weight equation. These observations have considerable potential for improving the efficiency of managing landfill airspace.
    • John Hartwell is an Iowa farm boy who attended Iowa State University and received his BSCE (structural emphasis) in 1971 and his MSCE (geotechnical) in 1974. He received his Ph.D. (geotechnical) from University of Nebraska – Lincoln in 2015. He served in the United States Army in Europe, the Mideast and continental US during his 28 years of service as an active duty and reserve component commissioned engineer officer, retiring in 2001 as a US Army Lieutenant Colonel.
      Following his active military duty, John worked as a project engineering superintendent for a wholly owned affiliate of Exxon, (Friendswood Development Co.) in Houston, Texas. In 1990 he joined Terracon Consultants where he advanced from Senior Project Engineer in the Des Moines office to President of Terracon Environmental, Inc. after opening up and heading the Omaha, NE office. He served as a member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Operations Committee for more than fifteen years and, retired from Terracon in 1999. John joined a start-up solid waste, engineering consulting company, Aquaterra Environmental Solutions, Inc. as their Chief Engineer and member of the Board of Directors. After merging with SCS Engineers in 2012, he now works part time as the company’s Senior Consultant.
      Dr. Hartwell will discuss aspects of his Ph.D. research as it relates to the impact of the in place MSW to soil ratio on Subtitle D landfilled insitu waste properties and landfill economics.

  • Jongwan Eun, PhD, PE, M.ASCE, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
    • Reduction of Landfill Gas Emission through an Interim Cover with Innovative Geomembranes
      • Landfill gas (LFG) is not only the third largest source of Greenhouse gas in the U.S., but also includes hazardous and strongly odorous gas to often upset landfill neighbors, resulting in strained relationships with the community, regulatory actions, and, in some cases, costly litigation. As a solution, innovative co-extruded geomembranes (GMs) with an Ethylene Vinyl-alcohol (EVOH) layer sandwiched between two polyethylene (PE) layers have been introduced to reduce the flux of organic contaminants in barrier systems. However, there are still latent and critical issues such as the applicability and validation of the effectiveness of using co-extruded EVOH GM for an interim cover at field site and the impact related to multiple stakeholders and regional community. In this study, the transmitted LFG will be collected through a gas flux chamber system to monitor LFG emission through a composite interim cover. A regional operating landfill will be an option for this project. At the completion of the project, the effectiveness of installation of interim covers with the co-extruded EVOH GM will be assessed based on the measure of LFG emissions.
    • Dr. Jongwan Eun is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) since 2016. He received his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering emphasized on geoenvironmental engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014 and M.S. from University of Texas at Austin in 2010. Dr. Eun has over 10 years of professional and academic experience in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering. He worked for Dongmyung E&C Co. for more than 4 years as a field engineer mostly in subway construction site in South Korea. His research interest is focused on design and analysis of advanced contaminant barrier system, unsaturated soil mechanics, and geoenvironmental engineering. His research results have been published in more than 30 national and international journal papers and proceedings. Dr. Eun is a member of three technical committees (geoenvironmental engineering, geosyntthiecs, and unsaturated soil mechanics) of Geo-Institute, ASCE. Dr. Eun serves as a reviewer for several journals such as the Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Journal of Testing and Evaluation, and Construction and Building Materials.
Craig Benson

Keynote Lecture: Innovations in Liner and Cover Materials for Waste Containment
Craig H. Benson, PhD, PE, F. AAAS, F. NAI, NAE, Dean, School of Engineering, University of Virginia

Workshop Organizing Committee

Chair - Jongwan Eun University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Civil Engineering
Co-Chair - Shannon Bartelt-Hunt University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Civil Engineering
Co-Chair - Yunwoo Nam University of Nebraska-Lincoln Community and Regional Planning
Co-Chair - Chandran Achutan, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Public Health

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University of Nebraska-Lincoln Logo University of Nebraska Medical Center Logo University of Virginia Logo University of Wisconsin Logo HDR Logo SCS Engineers Logo