NEW RUSSIA TWP. — State officials are considering a lawsuit against the Lorain County landfill if something isn’t done about the stench of garbage, a problem neighbors have been complaining about for years.

In a July 23 letter to Republic Services, which operates the landfill, Assistant Ohio Attorney General Nicholas Bryan urged the company to fix the ongoing problem as part of a settlement rather than face a full-blown lawsuit. Bryan’s letter also said the state was considering a lawsuit against Lorain County LFG Power Station, which converts the gas from rotting garbage at the landfill into electricity.

According to documents from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, complaints about the odor of garbage emanating from the landfill date back at least to 2003. The EPA received 10 odor complaints in 2007, 43 complaints in 2008, 87 complaints in 2009 and had received 46 complaints through July 7 of this year, the documents said.

“Citizens have described landfill odors as ‘unbearable’ and ‘sickening,’ ” Clarissa Gereby, an environmental specialist with the EPA’s Division of Solid and Infectious Waste Management, wrote in a Nov. 27, 2009, notice of violation to the landfill’s environmental manager, Chris Jaquet.

Gereby also wrote in November that the EPA officials had visited the area to check on the smell and found odors five out of six times.

In a July 7 letter to Jaquet, Gereby wrote that she had conducted “odor surveillance” on the evening of March 16 and the smell was a three out of four on the scale the EPA uses to rate landfill odors.

“A ‘3’ is ‘an odor strong enough to cause a person to avoid it completely,’ ” Gereby wrote.

Lorain County General Health District Environmental Health Director Jim Boddy said Tuesday that his office has also received complaints about the smell of the landfill.

Over the years, Republic — and Allied Waste and BFI, the two companies that operated the landfill before Republic — has made some efforts to fix the problem, but those apparently haven’t been enough, said Mike Settles, an EPA spokesman.
“The problem becomes when we make them aware of the situation and they don’t correct it,” he said.

Jeff Kraus, area community relations manager for Republic, said the company is aware of the issue and taking steps to stop the smell.

“Nothing is more important than operating our landfill in a safe and environmentally sound manner for our employees and our neighbors,” Kraus said in a statement. “We are committed to continue doing the right thing and will cooperate with all parties involved including the state of Ohio.”

Settles said Republic has told the state that it is interested in heading off the potential lawsuit through a settlement, which could mean lower civil penalties and court costs as well as a more company-friendly schedule to address the odor problem.

“It’s good that the company is willing to negotiate,” Settles said.

But the state hasn’t always been convinced that Republic wanted to deal with the problem.

In a March 15 letter to Heath Eddleblute, Republic’s area president, Pamela Allen, chief of the Division of Solid and Infectious Waste Management, complained that Jaquet had asked the EPA to rescind a violation notice dealing with the landfill’s gas collection and control system, which is supposed to help control the landfill’s odor.

“I am troubled that Lorain seems more concerned with debating the gas evaluation (notice of violation) than with abating the nuisance odors that persist in the community,” Allen wrote.

Kraus said the Republic has taken steps to fix the gas control issue, including improving its gas extraction system by installing 10 new landfill gas wells and redrilling 26 other gas wells. The landfill has 145 gas wells, he said.

“More improvements to the gas extraction system are planned for the fall,” Kraus said.

Jennifer Kurko, environmental supervisor in the Division of Solid and Infectious Waste Management, said it isn’t uncommon for landfills such as the one in Lorain County to have odor and other issues that require the EPA to step in.

According to the EPA documents, the Lorain County landfill has had issues over the years ranging from accepting — and then failing to promptly report — hazardous waste to not properly covering up the working areas of the landfill at night and garbage fires.

Most of those problems were addressed in one fashion or another when they’ve come up, but the smell has remained a constant issue, Kurko said.

“The driver right now is the persistent odor,” she said.

At our regularly scheduled SCL-CAC meeting of January 8, 2015, County Public Works representatives made a presentation under Item C. 6 of our agenda on the above subject matter indicating that they are now planning to include Sunshine Canyon Landfill in the disposal plan but only after it was excluded from the FEIR which was approved by the County Board of Supervisors on November 12, 2014.
  • The Board voted to oppose the plan (read the letter).
  • Environmentalist file a lawsuit in Superior Court challenging the recent approval of the Devil’s Gate Reservoir Sediment Removal Project (newspaper story)

Continue reading

unnamed (3)

BY JOHN COX The Bakersfield Californian

Food processors, dairies and others in Kern County may soon have a new place to send their organic waste — and with it, a new source of renewable, compressed natural gas.

This month, two state agencies awarded grants totaling $8 million to help fund construction of a $25-million biogas digester outside Tulare believed to be the first commercial-scale project of its kind in the Central Valley.

Newport Beach-based Colony Energy Partners’ project would take in a total of 500 tons per day of material such as food waste, yard trimmings, fats and even cow manure. It would come from any facility or municipality between Bakersfield and Modesto.

The 18-acre plant proposed near Paige Avenue would heat up the mixture to produce transportation-grade methane equivalent to more than 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel per day for commercial and municipal vehicle fleets. Leftover solids could serve as a soil amendment.

Colony says the project, expected to begin operation by the end of next year, offers three primary benefits: reduced emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas; less waste diverted to landfills and additional renewable transportation fuel.

“Think of us like a landfill,” said Kent Hawkins, Colony’s managing partner. He added the company is in negotiations with haulers, food processors and other companies that would pay Colony to take their organic waste.

CalRecycle contributed $3 million to the project last week, and on Wednesday the California Energy Commission added $5 million.

The commission estimates the project will produce about 400 million cubic feet of renewable biomethane per year. It said the digester would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 41,850 metric tons per year, while reducing nitrous oxides by more than 35 tons per year.

In a written statement Thursday, Commission Chairman Robert B. Weisenmiller said the agency’s grant award is intended to promote greater use of alternative and renewable fuels.

“We aim to transform the transportation sector to help meet California’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and petroleum dependence,” he wrote. “And this biogas project has the added benefit of economic stimulus in the San Joaquin Valley.”

Since July, Colony has processed food waste at a Fresno plant handling up to 30 tons per day. The company has also proposed a liquid natural gas facility near Reno, Nev.

If the Tulare project takes off as expected, Hawkins said, its capacity could be doubled to process 1,000 tons of organic waste per day.