Dayton landfill barred from discharging waste after worker illnesses

A Dayton landfill has been barred from discharging waste into the city’s system since being linked to clogged lines and the use of prohibited chemicals that made cleanup crews “very ill,” records show.

The city of Dayton has taken that action against Stony Hollow Landfill while it determines whether — as records indicate — the South Gettysburg Avenue site’s waste blocked sewer lines and contained a “questionably toxic” chemical that resulted in 10 city workers seeking medical attention from “significant odors.”

Dayton Water Department Director Michael Powell said the city is awaiting lab results on the chemicals in question and would not comment on the extent of the workers’ illnesses.

”Certain things may be toxic in certain environments and non-toxic in others,” Powell said.

He noted later, “We want to know exactly what we’re dealing with, so we’ll know how to proceed from that point forward.”

The landfill has been the focus of odor complaints by residents in Jefferson Twp., Kettering, Moraine and West Carrollton. Last week the facility was sued by a Moraine resident in a class-action lawsuit that alleged it was negligent in containing its emissions.

The city signed a cease and desist order, and a notice of violation for Stony Hollow regarding its industrial wastewater discharge permit, Dayton records show. Both city actions are firsts against the landfill, Powell said.

Stony Hollow’s operator, Waste Management, said in a statement that the chemical in the city’s notice of violation is a “common descaling agent added to wastewater to help keep the pipes clear.”

It also noted the landfill began transporting all decomposing waste off site for wastewater treatment before the city of Dayton’s order Oct. 27.

Powell said: “We don’t take cease and desist orders lightly because they can impact a businesses’ economics. So we don’t do those unless they’re absolutely necessary. We wanted to take the cautious route.

“Until we can figure out the exact extent of what was discharged into our collection system – what it consists of, what type of process needs to be taken for cleanup.”

The order and the notice stem from sanitary sewer overflows on Oct. 11 and Oct. 25, the second of which resulted in 10 workers being “overcome” by “objectionable odors that were questionably toxic,” according to a report the city filed with the Ohio EPA, which is monitoring the city’s investigation.

The cease and desist order states one chemical “has an environmental hazard noted…. that indicates that it should not be disposed of in a sanitary sewer…”

Waste Management stated: “We believe this product is widely used and was applied using manufacturer’s recommendation. We are continuing to investigate this matter and are working with the city of Dayton to resolve any concerns and identify the best course of action going forward.”

The company stated Friday that “we continue to conduct surface water, ground water and gas monitoring and testing following Ohio EPA regulations and permit conditions. State regulators and public health officials confirm that the leachate and odors do not present a health risk to the public or to our employees.”

The Oct. 25 incident occurred about 5 p.m. when crews responded to a sanitary sewer overflow on Gettysburg, where it was learned Stony Hollow turned on its pump station about an hour earlier “and was discharging a thick tar like material that expanded and hardened in the sanitary sewer. This (overflow) event contributed to significant odors in the area,” according to an email from Chris Clark, the city’s water reclamation division manager.

The email said, “The odors emanating from the sanitary sewer made city employees very ill. Of the 12 city employees….10 were sent for medical treatment.”

It later became known that Stony Hollow was adding two chemicals – a descaling agent and a defoaming agent – to its discharge, according to the email.

A city record “for the descaling agent clearly indicates that it should not be disposed of in a municipal sewer system,” according to Clark’s email. “Stony Hollow added these chemicals to their waste stream prior to their pump station due to the extreme scale buildup in their force main on their property.”

A report to the Ohio EPA indicates “an unidentified substance found in the sanitary sewer mainline emitting objectionable odors which were questionably toxic. Crews were advised to get medical treatment.”

The same report later states “….activities were postponed due to unknown substance emitting odors which were causing the crewmen to become overwhelmed.”

Stony Hollow has been the focus of odor complaints from area cities – mostly Moraine – for months. The city has received nearly 200 complaints since April.

The lawsuit, which claims more than 100 class members, contends the odor is having a detrimental impact on property values. Stony Hollow “has failed to sufficiently collect, capture and destroy landfill gas generated at its landfill to prevent fugitive emissions and to otherwise prevent odors from the landfill from invading the homes and property,” according to the lawsuit.

Moraine City Manager David Hicks said last week the city plans to ask the Montgomery County Solid Waste Advisory Committee to stop taking waste until the odor issue there is resolved. He also said Moraine plans to hire an environmental attorney.

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