NEW DETAILS: Using alternative landfill too costly, study says

Montgomery County has no plans to stop using a Dayton landfill that for months has been the focus of odor complaints, but wants the EPA to take more action to address the issue.

Diverting solid waste from Stony Hollow Landfill would cost the county about $2.15 million more, making the move too costly, officials said. Yet the county wants the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to take further steps to curtail the Waste Management-owned site’s odor issues that “have caused great hardship for citizens” in at least nine communities.

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“Many of our citizens complain about the negative effect that these odors have had on their quality of life and their ability to enjoy their homes and community,” according to a letter dated Feb. 24 to state EPA Director Craig Butler by the county’s environmental services department.

Citing complaints “primarily Moraine, Jefferson Township, Trotwood, Kettering, Oakwood, Miami Township, West Carrollton, Miamisburg and Dayton,” residents “are also frustrated by the lack of progress being made toward a permanent solution. The concerns raised by our residents cannot be ignored,” the letter states.

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The county has been exploring the use of an alternative site to haul trash to after hundreds of complaints were lodged about Stony Hollow’s inability to contain odors at the South Gettysburg Avenue location dating back to April 2016.

But a financial advisory committee for the county’s solid waste management has not recommended a move. Documents indicate the cost to use a Jay County, Ind. landfill the county also contracts with would be $15.6 million over a 14-month span before the Waste Management agreement expires in 2018.

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The current option costs $13.4 million over the same time period, records show.

With solid waste, “the biggest cost drivers are logistics,” said Pat Turnbull, director of the county’s environmental services. “So it’s primarily driven by how far you have to drive. The additional cost is primarily due to the distance and the amount of trips it would take to get the trash that you would normally dispose of under our current configuration.”

The Ohio EPA has negotiated with Waste Management short-term actions to address the odor issues at the South Gettysburg Avenue site and Stony Hollow has complied with them, officials have said.

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“We have made significant progress in implementing the full vacuum under the cap system, which has had a positive impact on containing and controlling odors,” according to an email from Kathy Trent, Waste Management’s senior public affairs director. “We are working closely with the Ohio EPA on final orders that will include continued agency involvement, monitoring and odor surveillance.”

The agency indicated Tuesday it is now working with the company “to address current and future conditions at the Stony Hollow Landfill.”

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“These orders will supplement the existing interim orders issued by Ohio EPA and will require the facility to continue to manage odors and reduce the impact to the surrounding communities,” according to an OEPA email.

But the county would like to see more specific – and further – orders, said Pat Turnbull, director of environmental services.

Some state orders have dealt with curtailing the odors and measuring their frequency. The county wants changes in air monitoring and testing, more sharing of testing results and a centralized complaint system for odor complaints and information, according to the letter.

Turnbull said Waste Management indicated the odor issues have not caused any health problems and the county wants to see the company’s data supporting that.

“That is something we believe that they would have the ability to tell Waste Management or (tell) Waste Management that they need to release to the public,“ Turnbull said.

OEPA officials indicated they plan to meet with county officials to discuss those concerns.

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