Moraine appeal of EPA’s landfill orders seeks cause of lingering odors

Stony Hollow Landfill in Dayton has been the focus of hundreds of odor complaints from several nearby communities. SKY 7/STAFF

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Stony Hollow Landfill in Dayton has been the focus of hundreds of odor complaints from several nearby communities. SKY 7/STAFF

Tami and Terry Redd say they owned a Moraine home downwind of the Stony Hollow Landfill for about 15 years before they had serious issues with the Dayton site’s odors.

“You could get a whiff of something,” she said, “but nothing even compares to what this ordeal has brought to our area.”

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Since April 2016, Tami Redd estimates, they have lodged 50 of the hundreds of complaints from about 10 communities regarding the Waste Management Inc.-owned landfill on South Gettysburg Avenue.

“And there’s times that we’ve smelled it” and taken no action, she said, because “you kind of get tired of complaints because nothing’s getting done.”

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The city of Moraine – which has been an advocate for the many nearby communities complaining about the odors – feels similarly.

It is appealing last month’s Ohio Environmental Protection Agency findings and orders — including a $16,000 fine — for Stony Hollow.

The May 3 orders include increasing odor surveillance around the landfill and conducting multiple random odor surveys each week at specific sites, according to Ohio EPA Spokeswoman Dina Pierce.

RELATED: EPA issues fine, orders against Stony Hollow Landfill

Agency Director Craig Butler also ordered Stony Hollow to take steps to reduce odors by installing a temporary cap over the reaction area and installing odor controls on the landfill’s leachate tanks.

Moraine officials said the agency’s directives don’t specify a root cause of high landfill temperatures linked to the odors and they do not outline a clear path to resolving the problem.

RELATED: Landfill odors have residents fuming

The Ohio EPA declined to respond, saying it does not comment on pending litigation.

A Waste Management official indicated the company is puzzled about a root cause.

“Our goal going forward is to further identify the factors that lead to elevated temperatures so that we can take steps to prevent them from occurring in the future,” according to Tom Horton, a company regional government affairs director.

RELATED: Landfill barred from discharging waste to Dayton

When odors intensified last spring, city officials said they were told by Stony Hollow the issue stemmed from trench digging and would last a few weeks.

“Two weeks became two months,” Moraine Law Director Buzz Portune told residents of six communities this month during a forum on Stony Hollow. “Then two months became six months, and six months became a year.”

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Asking the Environmental Review Appeals Commission to rule on the OEPA’s orders, said Moraine City Manager David Hicks, is designed to “get more focus on the cause of the actual problem at the landfill and address that cause so that doesn’t recur again in a year or five years or 10 years.”

The Ohio EPA is one of several state and local agencies over which the three-panel commission has jurisdiction. The appeal will allow the city greater access to agency records, which have been limited so far, said Peter Precario, an environmental attorney hired by Moraine.

RELATED: Lawsuit claims landfill negligent with odor issues

The appeal’s discovery process requires the OEPA to submit “a certified record” that will include “all the documents used by the agency to come up with their final order,” Precario said.

The EPA, however, has “responded to all public records requests made by the city of Moraine,” except for one made May 21, according to a statement from spokeswoman Pierce on Wednesday. “The documentation for this request is still being gathered.”

RELATED: Odor complaints have county studying other landfill sites

Since last spring, Waste Management’s multiple efforts to quash the odors have been unsuccessful. While most of the complaints have been lodged in Moraine, they’ve also streamed in from Dayton, Jefferson Twp., Kettering, Miami Twp., Miamisburg, Oakwood and West Carrollton, among other areas.

Meanwhile, a class-action lawsuit claiming more than 100 members was filed in November by a Moraine resident. It contended 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.”

RELATED: Moraine says EPA not acting fast enough on landfill odor issue

About that time, the city of Dayton banned the landfill from discharging waste into its collection system after a late October sewer blockage close to Stony Hollow. Dayton cleanup crews called to the scene had to seek medical attention after becoming “very ill,” according to city records.

Hicks then asked Montgomery County to stop hauling its waste to the landfill, but the county said the $2.15 million price tag for shipping to an alternative site was cost prohibitive. The county, however, asked the Ohio EPA to consider the “great hardship for its citizens” before issuing its directives for Stony Hollow.

RELATED: Alternative disposal sites too costly

The agency’s ruling fell short, Precario said.

“There’s nothing in the….final findings and orders that identifies (the odor’s) causation,” he said. “There’s nothing in these orders which – in my estimation – requires the company or anybody else to try to find the cause.”

RELATED: Landfill owner agrees with EPA order

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