July 22, 2014

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Meeting to address proposed expansion at landfill

Trash is dumped at the Lorain County Landfill in New Russia Township. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Trash is dumped at the Lorain County Landfill in New Russia Township. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

NEW RUSSIA TWP. — Neighbors of the Lorain County Landfill are expected to raise a stink at a Thursday informational meeting on proposed expansion.

Stench from the landfill at 43502 Oberlin-Elyria Road led to fines from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, which is hosting Thursday’s meeting. Republic Services Inc., which runs the landfill, was fined $450,000 by the EPA in March and Bio Energy Development Inc., which converts methane gas from the landfill into electricity, was fined $50,000. The fines were in response to 360 neighbor complaints since 2003.

The meeting will include a PowerPoint presentation by Jerry Parker, an environmental engineer with the EPA Division of Material & Waste Management, according to EPA spokesman Mike Settles. Settles said landfill expansions are never popular due to smells and health concerns, and he expects a big turnout.

“That’s the whole point of the meeting. That’s what we want,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll get an earful.”

Republic wants to increase landfill height to 90 feet on about 166 acres of the dump’s 279 permitted acres, according to Eric VanHouten, a Republic general manager. The expansion would allow for an additional 9.62 million cubic yards of capacity.

The 1,400-acre landfill, which opened in 1984 and accepts 4,000 tons of waste per day, is expected to reach capacity by 2028 with its current intake, VanHouten said. The expansion would allow the dump to operate until 2035.

If the EPA issues a draft permit, Settles said another hearing would be held. Parker said at a June meeting that if a draft permit is issued, a final decision probably wouldn’t be made until 2015.

VanHouten said Republic has been proactive in dealing with odor complaints. He said employees constantly monitor for smells and spray a chemical that smells like baby powder on the garbage to alleviate the smell. VanHouten said there are also more than 180 wells drilled into the garbage to capture and remove methane. VanHouten said the wells are drilled two to three times per year to maintain the wells or add more.

The methane is sent to Bio Energy, which converts the methane into energy. VanHouten said it generates 27 megawatts of energy per hour. A megawatt is 1 million watts.

VanHouten said there haven’t been any complaints recently, but Pat Justin, a Butternut Ridge Road resident who lives by the landfill, said she sent a “verified complaint” to the EPA last week. Since the last verified complaint in 2010, Justin said there have been 248 complaints to the EPA.

Justin said the chemical sprayed to alleviate the smell also smells bad and may cause health problems, although VanHouten said it’s been approved by the EPA. Justin said expansion would worsen conditions.

“The higher they’re going to go, the more the odors are going to disperse and spread,” Justin said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.

Landfill Meeting

What: An informational meeting hosted by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency over the proposed expansion of the Lorain County Landfill. A copy of the permit application is available for review at the EPA’s Twinsburg office. If interested, first call the office at (330) 963-1200.
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: New Russia Township Hall, 46268 Butternut Ridge Road, New Russia Township.