County asked to stop using landfill due to odor complaints

A county board’s unanimous vote Wednesday involving the Stony Hollow Landfill follows an unrelated Oct. 27 city order banning the South Gettysburg Avenue site from discharging into Dayton’s sewer system pending an investigation after a sewer overflowed, releasing odors that made cleanup crews “very ill,” records show.

The county Solid Waste Advisory Committee’s action came after officials said more than 300 odor complaints from six surrounding communities have been registered against Stony Hollow since the spring. The landfill’s odors are also the subject of a class-action lawsuit claiming it was negligent in containing them.

The county accounts for about one-third of Stony Hollow’s daily solid waste intake, officials said.

Despite Waste Management representatives saying they are taking significant steps to control the odor, the head of the solid waste advisory panel used strong language in backing the request by Moraine City Manager David Hicks.

“After hearing these comments made today – and comments made since April – it is clear that Waste Management has broken the public’s trust,” said committee chairman Dick Church Jr., who also is Miamisburg’s mayor.

Miamisburg and Jackson Twp. are on the list of communities complaining about the landfill’s odor. They join Jefferson Twp., Kettering, West Carrollton and Moraine — where most of the tracked complaints originate.

The resolution approved Wednesday directs “the Montgomery County Solid Waste District to determine alternative options for waste disposal that are economically and environmentally responsible to the citizens of Montgomery County.”

County Director of Environmental Services Pat Turnbull has said he is not aware of the committee receiving a similar request in his five years working with it.

The vote followed presentations by Waste Management officials, who said they are committed to solving the odor issue but declined to address any questions, citing pending litigation.

A project to add wells to contain landfill emissions “produced a lot more gas and a lot more liquid than we anticipated,” said Matt Neely, Waste Management director of disposal operations.

During the spring project to expand its disposal area, the digging “created some unique odors,” said Frank Fello, area director of operations recycling and disposal for the company.

“For safety reasons, we had to open up these trenches a lot wider because they were deep and obviously we didn’t want someone getting engulfed in there. So it created a little bit more odors than we would normally encounter,” he said.

Waste Management officials said they have nearly completed installing 50 wells and plan to cap a 13-acre area and take other “measures designed to control the odors.”

But Hicks said the issue has lingered for far too long.

“We’ve been discussing this since May and there’s no solution, and in spite of their efforts — I accept what they’re saying as far as them making efforts — but it isn’t working,” he said.

Montgomery County accounts for 300-to-400 tons of the 1,100 tons of waste Stony Hollow takes in each day, Fello said.

While Turnbull said staff has already started working on alternatives, finding them “is not something you’re going to be able to do overnight,” Church said. “It’s going to take a lot of research.”

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