North Carolina has recently undergone a slow process of developing potential sites for the construction of a low level hazardous waste facility. This process, which has taken several years, resulted in a list of potential sites. One of these several sites was located near the Durham area and another in Richmond county along the South Carolina border. The Durham site was quickly discarded with opposition because of the Duke Forest (a protected set of land owned by Duke University). The Richmond County site, on the other hand, made the list of the most viable potential sites. This marked the beginning of a long process of opposition created towns southeast of the site (the prevailing direction of groundwater flow). These towns, located in both North and South Carolina, made the siting decision drag on for several more years.
As you can see from this example, the process of siting a hazardous waste landfill (or for that matter any landfill) is a long political process that is subject to many changes in variables. By employing GIS in this selection process it may become easier to develop a preliminary coverage of potential sites. This coverage would be based on regulated restrictions and may help lessen the bias towards siting in areas of lower economical and political prominence. In addition, GIS would allow the analysis of site selection to include an optimization of viable sites subject to the variables of interest.
This report analyzes the site selection process for a portion of North Carolina which includes the suggested Richmond County site. In addition, this report conducts a preliminary optimization of non-restricted areas subject to the clay content of potential sites.