Moraine: Ohio EPA not acting fast enough to resolve landfill odors

Jan 05, 2017
Despite a construction effort at Stony Hollow Landfill to ameliorate odors, the Ohio EPA is not acting fast enough to resolve the issue drawing complaints from several cities, according to the Moraine city manager. SKY 7/STAFF

The Ohio EPA is not moving fast enough to correct the odor problems with a Dayton landfill drawing complaints from several nearby communities, according to Moraine’s city manager.

Yet state Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler has “taken aggressive steps by issuing an order requiring” Stony Hollow Landfill owner Waste Management “to take immediate actions to control odors” that have been the source of complaints from Jefferson Twp. to Miami Twp. and several cities in between, the state agency said Thursday.

The OEPA, according to Moraine’s David Hicks, is not acting with the “appropriate level of urgency and effort” to resolve the issue, which has prompted a class-action lawsuit and has Montgomery County exploring other options for waste disposal because of what he termed an “environmental disaster.”

“While the director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency may have stated in a private meeting with Waste Management….that the appropriate level of urgency and effort is being expended in correcting this problem, I could not more strongly disagree,” according to a Jan. 4 email from Hicks.

The Ohio EPA and Waste Management indicated Thursday the landfill on South Gettysburg Avenue met all agency orders by the Dec. 22 deadline. But a company official noted it “continues to refine” measures that “should significantly help with odors.”

Ohio EPA “continues to work with Waste Management and all parties to monitor activity at this facility and are fully committed to aggressively push to have Waste Management fully address this issue,” the agency said in a statement.

Hicks said in the email — which went to officials with the Ohio EPA, Waste Management, Montgomery County, Dayton and local health agencies — that Moraine has fielded more than 400 complaints, including 59 in December and 10 this month as of Wednesday.

Complaints in Moraine and Jefferson Twp. started last spring and have been so constant in the city that residents suffer from “complaint fatigue,” Hicks said. Meanwhile, others have come more recently from Dayton, Kettering, Miamisburg, Miami Twp., Oakwood and West Carrollton.

The state EPA Nov. 28 outlined an order that included six actions for Waste Management to take by to curtail odors coming from the site. Among them:

-Install a liner meeting EPA requirements as a temporary cap on 13.5 acres of the landfill;

-Immediately begin odor surveys at EPA identified locations identified at least three times daily;

-Immediately notify the director or his designee, the Dayton city manager or her designee and other local government officials of communities potentially impacted, of any facility malfunction, power outage or event that may cause the migration of nuisance odors beyond the landfill property.

“The next step is to create the vacuum seal under the cap, which requires some fine tuning of the gas wells and flares,” according to Kathy Trent, public affairs manager of Waste Management. “Our team worked through the holidays and continues to refine the vacuum under the cap to direct gas to the larger capacity flare, which should significantly help with odors.

“Ohio EPA officials have been on site throughout this process monitoring our work and collaborating with our team on a long-term odor management plan that they will approve and monitor in 2017,” Trent said in an email.

Butler’s late November orders for Stony Hollow followed a series other actions taken against the landfill. In late October the city of Dayton issued a notice of violation against the site and barred it from discharging waste into its system after about 12 crews required medical attention in cleaning up a sewer overflow that city records linked to Stony Hollow, city records show.

In early November, a Moraine resident filed a class-action lawsuit that claimed the landfill was negligent in containing its emissions, leading to – among other issues — a negative impact on property values in the neighboring city.

Later that month, the Montgomery County Solid Waste Advisory Committee – which represents more than 20 jurisdictions – voted unanimously to explore other disposal options. The vote came at the urging of Hicks, who asked the panel to halt sending waste to Stony Hollow until the odor issues were resolved.